Fracking Poses Risk to More Than Groundwater
The chilling news of the discovery of the body of a field service technician at the site of a Chevron “fracking” well in Greene County near Pittsburgh should remind us all of the dangers presented by an industry that is in full operation across a broad swath of Pennsylvania. The well exploded on February 11, 2014, sending huge flames skyward in a fire that took 5 days to extinguish. Although the exact cause of the explosion remains unknown, it is important to understand that it occurred after fracking of the well was complete, when workers were attempting to link the well to a pipeline, in order to transport the natural gas pumped from the Marcellus shale formation below. It makes clear that, as with other heavy extraction industries, fracking generates risks beyond its more frequently discussed environmental hazards. At any point in the process, serious personal injury and property damage are not only possible; over time, they are likely to happen. If regulators learn anything from the Greene County tragedy, it must be that this is an industry that needs more, not less, governmental oversight.
By Gerald J. Williams, Esquire