The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued nine citations to Chevron for the well fire that resulted in one contractor’s death.
“For two days after a Marcellus Shale natural gas well exploded in flames in Greene County [on February 11], the well owner, Chevron Corp., refused to allow state investigators onto the property, in violation of oil and gas laws, the state said Thursday,” according to a report by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
DEP spokesman John Poister said the state’s emergency team didn’t have “free and unrestricted access” despite a condition in Chevron’s permit granting the access.
The state didn’t force its way onto the property or ask the Pennsylvania State Police to intervene, Poister told the Post Gazette, because “we decided not to make it a pitched battle and instead focused on getting the well capped and making the scene safe.”
“Chevron did not relent until the second day after DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo visited the site himself and reminded the company of its obligations, Mr. Poister said,” according the news report.
Chevron said it still received the notice of the potential violations last month.
The company said: “During our response to this incident, Chevron’s first priority was to ensure the safety of all responders and prevent additional injuries. For that reason, access to the Lanco site during the initial stages of the incident was restricted. At Chevron’s request, the Pennsylvania State Police established an access control point near the pad. No one, including Chevron personnel, was permitted access to the pad on the day of the incident, until experts from Wild Well Control arrived on the scene and were able to assess the situation. ”
The DEP also cited Chevron for seven violations for failure to operate a well properly and failure to prevent venting of gas, and a violation for a discharge of well production fluids onto the ground, the Post Gazette said.
The citations are step toward negotiating fines, the paper said.