Pipeline explosion in Marion County WV causes the wrongful death of a Ritchie County man working in the oil and gas fields of West Virginia.
With the loss of so many jobs in the coal mining industry, many West Virginians hope that an abundance of new jobs will continue to be created in West Virginia in support of the growing oil and gas drilling operations and pipeline construction. The trouble is, the oil and gas industry is every bit as dangerous as coal mining.
We have many brave individuals who are willing take the risk of working the gas wells and constructing and maintaining the pipelines in order to support their families, but the utmost care must be implemented by not only the oil and gas companies, but by the manufacturers of the parts and equipment on which these workers depend.
Tyler County, WV Well Pad Fatality
A recent example of a horrific breach in safety occurred in Tyler County, West Virginia when a 19-year-old man was killed when he was struck and pinned between a truck and a sand silo. The tractor-trailer was backing up to unload sand at an Antero Resources well pad site. The Lewis County man worked for U.S. Well Services, the fracking company hired by Antero. The well pad was the Hartley East Pad in Middlebourne, WV.
West Virginia (WV) Pipeline Explosion Fatality
Another example of an equipment malfunction in the gas and oil fields concerns an employee of the Ronald Lane Pipeline Construction Company who was fatally injured while maintaining a pipeline near 94 N on North Bunner Ridge in Marion County. A "pig" being run through the line somehow malfunctioned, creating an explosion, and a piece of the pig hit this employee in the head and he died as a result of his injuries. The deceased worker was from Ellenboro, Ritchie County, was forty years old and left behind his wife and children.
As West Virginians know all too well, the employment opportunities in the energy sector come with great risk. Accidents will happen in dangerous industries, but many could have been prevented if more training has been accomplished, greater safety measures had been in place and enforced, and if workers had not been worked hours past the point of exhaustion.
Gas Companies Must Be Held Accountable for Safety Violations
Since most oil and gas industry disasters such as explosions and equipment failures and malfunctions typically cause severe, if not fatal, injuries to workers, company owners and operators must be held accountable for failing to provide safe conditions for the workers.
There is no amount of money which can compensate for the life of a unique and loved human being, but his family will need financial help now to rebuild their lives after this unexpected, tragic, and sorrow-filled event.
The family of the man so tragically killed in this pipeline accident will receive some compensation from Workers Compensation Insurance. If it is determined there is another party at fault for causing the accident, a personal injury attorney whose focus is wrongful death claims will be best suited to pursue full and fair money damages, while the family continues to receive the workers' comp benefits their loved one is due for his on the job fatal injury.
Typically, a family in this situation would be prudent to consult a personal injury lawyer whose services include filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which protects their legal rights to compensation for their great economic losses, grief and suffering, funeral expenses, medical expenses incurred prior to death, and future lost earnings of the deceased. Most of the best personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation and a contingency fee agreement, so the family would not have to pay anything until they receive compensation.
In a case like this, the attorneys representing this employee's family will file suit with not only the gas line company, but also the manufacturer of the malfunctioning equipment and any contractors who may have had direct involvement with the construction of the pipeline.
There are at least six proposed pipeline projects which will traverse through West Virginia. The largest pipeline project, designed to transport liquified natural gas to Cove Point Maryland for export to Japan and India, has undergone route modifications to avoid sensitive wilderness areas and endangered species habitats. Pipelines in general are a much safer way to transport this homegrown energy, but when anything at all goes wrong, the results are devastating.
Just last year, West Virginia Governor Tomblin announced in his State of the State address the need for new research to be conducted aimed at keeping our workers safe. Seven natural gas workers died in our state in 2013, and fifteen died in the four years preceding 2013. The oil and gas industry is one of the most dangerous industries for their workers. Natural gas industry employees work in rugged terrain around fast-moving equipment and conditions that present a myriad of safety challenges.
In our enthusiasm for this industry which promises to create thousands of jobs while eliminating our dependence on foreign energy sources, the utmost concern must be for the safety of drilling workers, truckers, and pipeline construction employees in the course of the rapid growth of the natural gas industry in West Virginia.
Marcellus Drilling News: Marcellus Worker Killed in Tyler County, WV at Antero Well Pad
WV MetroNews: "One dead after accident at Marion County gas well," February 24, 2016.
The Charleston Gazette, "Tomblin calls for study of increased deaths from gas-drilling boom" By Ken Ward Jr., January 14, 2015.
Appalachian Mountain Advocates, "Atlantic Coast Pipeline Threatens New Parts of West Virginia and Virginia", February 16, 2016.
WTOV 9 News: One Dead in Moundsville Industrial Accident, January 11, 2015
WOWK TV: Natural gas industry takes preliminary steps toward pipelines, Sarah Tincher, January 14, 2015.
Keywords: pipeline explosion, gas well explosion, Marion County, Bunner Ridge