Explosion at Chesapeake Drilling Site in Western PA Injures Three Workers

An explosion last night at a well site along the Pennsylvania/West Virginia border injured three workers and resulted in a fire that burned for about three hours.

Three workers were burned in what neighbors described as an explosion and fire last night at a Marcellus shale drilling site in Washington County.

The blast occurred at the Chesapeake Energy site off Meadowcroft Road and First Street in Avella, a community in Independence Township near the West Virginia border, state Department of Environmental Protection and county 911 officials said.

Five “frac tanks” — mobile steel storage tanks used to hold liquids — burned until 9:30 p.m., DEP spokeswoman Katy Gresh said. She said the three gas wells were not affected by the flames.

“At approximately 6:15 p.m. a flash fire occurred, igniting natural gas liquids storage tanks on the Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC, Powers well site in Avella,” read a statement from Stacey Brodak, director of corporate development at Chesapeake’s offices in Canonsburg.

“Three contract employees are injured and have been transported to the hospital. All wells are shut in, and there is no danger to area residents or threat to the environment,” the statement read.

Brodak said the cause of the fire is not known.*

The hydraulic fracturing process was already completed for the three wells and work on the wells was almost done. The PA DEP will conduct a full investigation to determine why the explosion occurred.

MDN’s view: Of the thousands of gas wells drilled each year, accidents are (thankfully) rare. Our thoughts and prayers go to those injured.

*Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Feb 24) – Three burned at Marcellus shale drilling site near Avella