WV gas worker killed in EQT well pad incident identified - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

WV gas worker killed in EQT well pad incident identified

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UPDATED

Central Environmental Services of Washington, W.Va. has identified itself as the contractor whose employee was killed in the Friday, Feb. 15 incident at an EQT Corp. wellpad in Taylor County.

CES identified the employee as Brian Hopkins and, while the incident has not officially been termed an explosion, did refer to it as an explosion.

"On the morning of February 15, 2013, our employee, Brian Hopkins, was at a customer's well-pad near Flemington in Taylor County West Virginia, performing normal work-related tasks when an explosion occurred, killing Brian and causing some damage to area where he was working," reads a statement e-mailed the evening of Feb. 16 by CES Chief Operating Officer Jeff Harper.

"Brian was on the work site and near two of the tanks when the explosion occurred. He had not begun transferring water, a routine activity that our employees do every day, when the accident took place," Harper continued.

CES is cooperating with the state and federal investigations and also is conducting its own internal investigation, he wrote. 

CES has an excellent safety record and always puts the safety and well-being of its employees first, he wrote, adding that this is the first such tragic loss at the company.

"Hopkins was an exceptional employee, a good friend to his co-workers and a well-liked member of the CES family," he concluded. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends at this tragic time and we share in their sorrow."

 

UPDATED

One man was killed at an early-morning incident at a an EQT Corp. gas well in Taylor County.

Local police, fire and emergency medical authorities responded to notification of an accident at a site at on Berry Road in Flemington. The call to 911 came around 8:30 a.m.

Taylor County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Robert Beltner said he was first on the scene and that the incident appeared to have been an explosion, but EQT spokesperson Linda Robertson said that has not yet been determined.

The incident was not related to drilling, according to the first statement from EQT, e-mailed by Robertson at about 1:45 p.m., because it occurred at a well that already is producing.

"Initial findings indicate that the fatally injured contractor was at the site to check fluid levels on water storage tanks when the incident occurred," Robertson said.

Beltner said the victim was on the catwalk of a "400-barrel brine tank" taking measurements when the incident occurred.

The well produces dry gas, Robertson said, without condensate.

An early call notifying the state Department of Environmental Protection indicated that an employee of a service contractor was transferring brine from a tank to a truck when an  as-yet unidentified source of ignition caused an explosion, according to DEP spokesperson Kathy Cosco.

Brine at a gas well is waste fluid that comes up during the period that gas wells are completed, or made ready for production, and during production. The brine has salts from underground as well as petroleum-based constituents and is, for that reason, flammable.

The name of the victim has not yet been released and Robertson said the contractor asked not to have its name released yet either.

DEP and OSHA have investigators on site.

"The site has been secured as the investigation is ongoing into the exact cause of the incident and all appropriate regulatory authorities have been notified," Robertson said. "The safety and security of EQT employees and contractors is a core value and it's a sad day when we lose anyone within our community. Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of the deceased."

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