There is no doubt that hydraulic fracturing or fracking is controversial. Those who favor the practice of fracking believe it is the key to lowering gas prices, creating jobs, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Those who are opposed to fracking fear that the chemicals used in the process will pollute the air, soil and water. One thing that is rarely mentioned by either side is the danger to workers.
On Thursday, November 13, 2014, a worker was killed and two more men were injured in a fracking-related accident at a Weld County, Colorado fracking site. According to Coloradoan.com news, Matthew Smith, Grant Casey and Thomas Sedlmayr were attempting to defrost a high-pressure water valve that had frozen due to subzero overnight temperatures. The water line ruptured with a force between 3500 and 4500 psi.
Thirty-six-year-old Smith died at the scene. Sedlmayr sustained serious injuries and was airlifted to Denver Health Medical Center. Casey’s injuries were less serious. He is listed in good condition at Medical Center of the Rockies.
The Anadarko Petroleum Corp. fracking site where the men were injured is part of the Wattenberg oil and gas field. The three men involved in the accident were employees of Halliburton, the contractor handling fracking operations at the site. Anadarko suspended all drilling in the area after the accident.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the the cause of the accident, oversight, the safety measures that were in place at the time, and operating procedures at the site. The agency will also look for ways to prevent such accidents in the future. The investigation is expected to take at least a month.
This is the second fracking-related death in Colorado in less than a month. On October 21, 2014, 34-year-old Shane Hill of Grand Junction was killed at a WPX Energy Up site in Garfield County. Hill died after being struck in the head by a fitting that blew off of a rig.
There is no doubt that workers at fracking sites face a wide range of hazards ranging from explosions and machinery accidents to the effects of long-term chemical exposure. The fracking injury lawyers at Ostroff injury law are dedicated to ensuring that every worker receives fair compensation for his ot her injuries and that families who have lost a worker to fracking site accident have a voice against the big oil companies. For more information, contact us at 855-880-6667.