West Virginia Mine Blast Burns Seven Workers

The seven workers were taken the West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh and were in fair condition.


 
 

VICKI SMITH, Associated Press Writer | | Monday, June 7, 2010


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - A crew drilling a natural gas well through an abandoned coal mine in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle hit a pocket of methane gas that somehow ignited, triggering an explosion that burned seven workers, a state inspector said Monday.

The blast created a column of flame at least 70 feet high, and it will likely burn until a team of well fire experts can reach the scene to extinguish it, said Bill Hendershot, an inspector with the Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Oil and Gas.

The fire is in a rural area outside Moundsville and presents no danger to any structures or people, Hendershot said.

Buckhannon-based Union Drilling had drilled to about 1,100 feet when something caused the ignition early Monday, Hendershot said. The company had drilled through the mine before without incident, he said.

Pittsburgh-based Chief Oil and Natural Gas operates the well and others in West Virginia but typically contracts with other companies to do the drilling, said Jeff Funke, area director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Charleston office.

Hendershot said Union was the contractor on the Marshall County site. A receptionist in Buckhannon referred calls to corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, but a telephone message there was not immediately returned.

The seven workers were taken the West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh and were in fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

OSHA learned of the accident shortly after 8 a.m. and Funke said a team of two investigators would be dispatched. However, they cannot enter the site and begin work until the fire is out, he said.

Wild Well Control of Houston, Texas, was called to extinguish the fire, but it's unclear how soon its teams may reach the site. A company spokesman did not immediately return a telephone message.

Funke said OSHA created a program to deal with gas drilling in the vast Marcellus shale fields about five years ago and has been proactively inspecting sites to ensure compliance with safety regulations. The gas reserve is about the size of Greece and lies about 6,000 feet beneath New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

OSHA knew there would be a lot of drilling in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, "and we did our best to get out in front of that curve," Funke said. "So we're well-equipped to respond to this."



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, explosion, burns

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

PulsePoint PSA, San Diego

App will allow trained San Diego residents to respond to nearby cardiac arrest c
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

California Beach Lightning Strike MCI

More than a dozen injured in Venice Beach lighting strike.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Item on Iowa Helicopter Helps Save Patient’s Life

Supply of blood recently added to LifeFlight helicopter.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Shooting Inside Pennsylvania Hospital

Early reports of one person dead in Darby hospital.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >