Some see hydraulic fracture drilling (better known as “fracking”) of West Virginia’s Marcellus shale deposits to bring up natural gas deposits as a clean-energy revolution that will usher in the future of power production for our country. Supporters of fracking recognize that there are some drawbacks to the process, but insist that it is still an overall safe, clean method of extracting energy from the earth.
Opponents of fracking have a much different view. They see fracking not as a beacon of hope, but a method of destruction that injures workers, poisons groundwater deposits and depletes vital natural resources.
Fracking is a relatively new process, and there isn’t yet enough substantial evidence to prove either side’s view, but the truth is likely somewhere in between. Regardless of its impact on the environment, it is true that the process of fracking – like the process of extracting any fossil fuel, including coal and oil – is potentially dangerous for workers and innocent bystanders alike.
Myriad possible injuries
A recent explosion at the Brushy Fork/New Milton gas well operated by Antero Resources left eight employees injured, five of them with serious enough burn injuries to need transport to specialized burn units in the area, illustrated only one of the ways in which people can be injured during the fracking process. That incident happened when chemical-laden wastewater being removed from the well site was ignited by a spark, and the ensuing fire quickly caused two nearby holding tanks to explode.
Workplace fracking-related injuries don’t just come as a result of explosions or fires, though. Gas well drilling sites have the same risks as other resource mining sites (including crush injuries from heavy equipment and trench/well collapses like those sometimes seen at coal mines) and those common to construction sites (like injuries from power tools, being hit by vehicles, falls and being struck by falling objects).
As with other resource extraction operations, fracking sites can pose a danger to innocent bystanders passing by on local roadways. Because the fracking process is so dependent on the high-pressure injection of water and chemicals into the earth, that liquid has to be hauled away frequently, and dozens of trucks enter and leave fracking sites daily. The trucks are often full of tens of thousands of gallons’ worth of hazardous, chemical-laden wastewater. Should the driver of one of these massive trucks lose focus for just a second, a crash could occur that will likely result in both injuries to vehicle occupants and the spill of toxic materials that could contaminate soil and groundwater.
Have you or a loved one been injured in a fracking-related accident, either as a worker or a passerby? Do you need to learn more about how to hold the responsible parties accountable for your injuries? If so, seek the advice of an experienced West Virginia personal injury attorney in your area.