EXPLOSIONS & FIRES
In the summer of 2007, methane seeped from Ben Bounds domestic well in Huerfano County and exploded inside his pump house. The explosion lifted the pump-house roof off the frame and melted or singed everything inside.
A few days later, a state inspector with a methane detector investigated the Bounds property at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. "When he opened the door to the garage, the detector went absolutely crazy," says Mr. Bounds.
While 50 methane drilling wells and active hydraulic fracturing operations are nearby, a lack of independent monitoring and testing has made it impossible to prove that fracking created pathways for methane to collect in Bounds's domestic water system.
Bounds and his family immediately evacuated the home, and they've had to evacuate many times since when detectors Bounds installed signaled the presence of methane.
The state advised that Bounds not allow his grandchildren or any visitors to come to the property, and his insurance company has threatened to drop coverage. He has thought about simply abandoning the home since he could not in good conscience sell the property.
Early Morning Natural Gas Fire South Of Rifle
The fire started around 5:00 a.m, January 24, 2011, in the Beaver Creek area, about eight miles south of Rifle, CO.
Eyewitnesses heard two explosions and saw flames shooting into the air.
Gas well workers for Williams were getting ready to frack for the day when the explosion happened and flames started shooting out of the ground.
Fire Chief Rob Willits says there was minimal damage, nobody was injured in the fire, the blaze was contained to the tank and was put out by 6:30 a.m.
Williams spokeswoman Susan Alvillar said smaller fires associated with fracking are not uncommon. Flammable materials can lead to fires, but that crews are trained to either put them out themselves or let them burn out on their own. She said fire departments are often called as a backup measure.
Fires caused by methane leaks in many other States
Near Cleveland, in April 2009, a spark ignited the natural gas that had collected in the basement of Richard and Thelma Payne's home. It shattered windows, blew doors 20 feet from their hinges and ignited a small fire. The Paynes were jolted out of bed and their house lifted clear off the ground.
Fearing another explosion, firefighters evacuated 19 homes. Somehow, gas had seeped into the drinking water aquifer and migrated up through the plumbing.
Subsequent investigation attributed the methane leak to fracking a well before correcting the minimal cement behind the production casing and the 31 days that high-pressure gas was restricted in the space between the surface and production casing after fracking.
In Dimock, PA, several drinking water wells have exploded and nine others were found with so much gas that one homeowner was told to open a window if he planned to take a bath.
In Frio County, Texas in September 2011, seven hydraulic fracturing trucks were totaled in a fire. No one was injured, but the damage to equipment was estimated at about $7 million. Fire Marshal Chuck Garris said there was a "flash" from a pipe and the fire started. Several fire departments from nearby towns and counties battled the blaze. It took about 90 minutes to extinguish the fire.
In February 2011 the Colorado School of Public Health made the following recommendations for Battlement Mesa, CO:
What we know: A small number of accidents and malfunctions occur on a regular basis in natural gas development and production. These accidents and malfunctions can have minor to catastrophic consequences and can impact air, water, and soil quality along with the health of workers and nearby residents. Lack of adherence to rules and regulations, as well as regulatory oversight and enforcement increases the likelihood of accidents and malfunctions. While increased preventive measures and enforcement of regulations can reduce the likelihood of accidents and malfunctions, they cannot ensure that a catastrophic event will not occur in the Battlement Mesa PUD as a result of Antero’s project.
We recommend that Garfield County:
10. Clearly mark primary and secondary evacuation routes from Battlement Mesa.
11. Perform quarterly tests of emergency notification systems within Battlement Mesa (e.g., sirens and reverse 911).
12. Request the Battlement Mesa fire department to inspect all proposed well pad locations and make recommendations for the prevention of well pad fires spreading from the pads up to relocation of pads and that these recommendations are incorporated into the special use permit.
13. Require all gas pipelines to follow established truck haul routes and allow no gas pipelines through the center of the PUD.
14. Assign a county inspector to oversee and inspect all pipeline construction and maintenance in the PUD.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development states: "Operating and abandoned oil and gas wells pose potential hazards to housing, including potential fire, explosion, spray and other pollution. Therefore, no dwelling may be located closer than 300 feet from an active or planned drilling site or 75 feet from an operating well; this applies to the site boundary, not to the actual well location."
Boom in gas drilling fuels contamination concerns in Colorado
Early Morning Natural Gas Fire South Of Rifle http://www.kjct8.com/news/26594246/detail.html
Officials in Three States Pin Water Woes on Gas Drilling
Natural Gas Explosions http://www.naturalgaswatch.org/?cat=8
Fire destroys seven fracking trucks
How fracking is harmful
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