OSHA: No citations in fatal well fire

August 13, 2014
One worker remains missing after a gas well explosion near Bobtown in Dunkard Township on Tuesday, February 11. The intensity of the flames prevented crews from getting close to the fire at the Lanco wellhead. - Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration completed its investigation of the Feb.11 explosion and fatal fire at Chevron Appalachia’s Lanco well pad in Dunkard Township and said its six-month investigation could determine no exact cause for the fire. No citations for violation of federal safety standards will be issued in regard to the incident.

OSHA said it responded immediately to investigate the fire, which resulted in the death of 27-year-old Ian McKee, a field service technician for Houston-based Cameron International.

OSHA said it involved the victim’s family both during its investigation and afterward to explain the agency’s findings and any actions that could be taken, the statement said.

The state Department of Environmental Protection issued its report on the fire last week that attributed the cause to human error, noting a lock pin improperly secured on a well head assembly by an inexperienced worker may have allowed gas from the pressurized well to escape and ignite.

The report criticized Chevron for failing to properly oversee contractors at the site which, among other things, allowed an inexperienced “greenhat” employee of Cameron to do work for which he was neither trained nor properly supervised.

DEP cited the company in April for initially barring DEP personnel from accessing the site as well as for failure to construct and operate a well to ensure well integrity is maintained, failure to use efforts to prevent explosions and fire, hazardous venting of gas and failure to prevent waste of gas due to the condition of blowout equipment.

A DEP spokesman said last week the department intends to meet with Chevron to discuss the violations, and was waiting until its incident report was completed.

DEP spokesman John Poister said Wednesday the department would not comment on OSHA’s investigation. The department has not yet held a meeting with the company but when it does the findings of its report, the violations, “everything will be on the table,” he said.



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