In 2014, I did some research on major fracking incidents in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Here’s what I found: there is no completely safe way to frack for gas; every stage of the process is subject to explosions and fires.
There were mechanical failures of parts as well as human failures such as not having gas meters and detectors on the production rigs and on the workers themselves.
From Texas experience with both oil and gas fracking, the longest and most extensive in the nation, covering some 250,000 wells, comes this warning: expect “one major blowout for every one thousand wells.”
That’s because the well pads are almost like small city outposts: they have generators of different types, extensive floodlights, pumps, trucks coming and going; in other words, many, many sources of ignition to trigger problems with the unpredictable levels of gas flow.
Fracking operations put many thousands of heavy duty trucks on the local and regional roads 24/7. That means accident statistics go up and lives are lost and there are serious injuries. That will be in addition to the known and still unknown health risks, the same risks that led New York State to say no.
One example— Feb. 11, 2014, 6:45 a.m. near near Bobtown, Dunkard Township, Greene County, Pa., Chevron:
This was a horrific explosion and fire, which burned for four days, and the wells, 6H and 7H, were not capped until Feb. 23 and 25. The basic fracking drilling had been completed, and workers were hooking up a steel pipe from the well to a gas line distribution network, in preparation for production.
The fire caused a nearby propane truck to explode. Wild Wells Control of Houston, Texas had to be summoned to put out the fire and cap the wells. Chevron has been accused and later fined by the State of Pennsylvania for blocking access to the site on numerous occasions.
Chevron also caused outrage by running ads offering this guarantee: “Our wells won’t explode … or your pizza is free.” (Feb. 17, 2014. For $12 worth of pizza and drink coupons.)