Chevron gives victims of a fracking explosion a coupon for a free pizza
One hundred residents of a tiny Pennsylvania town where a fracking well exploded last week into a spectacular and deadly tower of flame, killing one person and burning for five days, have received an apology in the form of a pizza coupon.
Chevron Appalachia Community Outreach sent the residents of Bobtown a certificate that entitles them to a large pie (“Special Combo Only”) at their local pizza outlet, along with a letter dated February 16 assuring residents of the $250 billion company’s dedication to safety. The gift certificate also gets its holder a free 2-liter of soda. It said:
“Chevron recognizes the effect this has had on the community. We are committed to taking action to safeguard our neighbors, our employees, our contractors and the environment.”
The intense fire posed “incredible risk to the workers who eventually put it out after days,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
A missing worker (believed to be a contractor) from the Chevron Appalachia site has not been found and is presumed dead. The well pad has three natural gas wells. Nineteen workers were on the well pad during the explosion, a spokesman said. “Preparations were being made to run tubing, which is often done prior to bringing wells into production.” It’s reported that there was no drilling or hydraulic fracturing at the time, he said.
Nearby residents reported a loud boom and felt the earth shake prior to the explosion. “The house just sort of shook and there was a big loud bang,” resident John Kuis, 57, told the Post-Gazette of the moments leading up to the explosion.
Another neighbor described the sound as like a “jet engine.”
Wild Well Control, an organization trained specifically to deal with natural gas explosions, was called to the site. Investigators finally gained access to inspect the well pad for the missing employee eight days after the blast when they were able to pull a charred crane off the well pad that was nearest to the still-leaking wells. That came after Wild Well finished installing a fire suppression system to constantly douse the well heads, helping to keep the natural gas from building up on site and minimizing the potential for a further explosion. The company also installed tube “diverters” onto the two leaking well heads to direct the natural gas away from the well pad. Wild Well still has to stage all the necessary equipment before the well heads can be capped, a process that could take at least another two days.
As of 19 February “Barring some really unforeseen circumstance, we should be able to get the wells capped by this weekend,” according to the deputy secretary for the Department of Environmental Protection in charge of the state’s oil and gas management. He has been on the well site every day since Saturday because of the severity of the incident.
Lower carbon than coal? Data from a number of studies have drawn attention to the methane escaping from drilling sites (known as ‘fugitive methane’), and there is now considerable evidence to suggest that, from a climate change perspective, burning shale gas may be no better than burning coal and may in fact be worse.
Per molecule, the global warming potential of methane is 34 times stronger as a heat-trapping gas than CO2 over a 100-year time scale (Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change). Recent studies suggest that methane leakage rates from shale gas drilling have been seriously underestimated.