Chevron Corp. has agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed last year by the family of a subcontractor killed in an explosion and fire at a three-well pad in southwest Pennsylvania, according to documents filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. Under the settlement, which was approved by a judge, Chevron would pay $5 million, most of which would go toward a trust for the worker's son. In February 2014, a natural gas leak at a Chevron site in Greene County caused an explosion and fire that raged for days (see Shale DailyFeb. 11, 2014). The blast killed Ian McKee, 27, of Morgantown, WV, who was working on site for Cameron International. An investigation later revealed that human error likely caused the leak after it was discovered that a gland nut and lock screw assembly were ejected from the wellhead. The leaking gas caught fire when it reached hot equipment on the pad (see Shale DailyAug. 7, 2014).

Remnants of a May 19 oil spill from a Plains All American pipeline in Santa Barbara County, CA, spread over the weekend to beaches in Ventura and Los Angeles counties to the south as company officials reported progress in recovery efforts. A "unified command" involving federal, state, local and company representative has been working for two weeks on clean-up efforts deploying more than 1,400 people, more than a dozen marine vessels, several aircraft, and 10,600 feet of booms surveying more than 50 miles of shoreline, 40.3 miles of which have been impacted by the pipeline spill. Thus far, the recovery has netted 11,915 gallons of oily water mixture; 510 cubic yards of oiled vegetation; 540 cubic yards of oiled sand; and 3,840 cubic yards of oiled soil.

Texas has earmarked $4.5 million in a supplemental budget bill approved by the House of Representatives for the study of seismic activity. The money is to go to the University of Texas at Austin Bureau of Economic Geology, which will investigate seismicity that is thought to be related to oil and natural gas development activities. Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) sought the money for the distribution of seismic monitoring equipment. The Barnett Shale region of North Texas has experienced numerous small earthquakes in recent years, and these are thought to be related to drilling waste injection wells (see Shale DailyApril 24).

A Youngstown, OH-based company has pleaded guilty for its role in dumping tens of thousands of gallons of oilfield waste down a storm drain that emptied into a major river running through the city. A U.S. District Court judge ordered Hardrock Excavating LLC to pay $100,000 to Friends of the Mahoning River and the Midwest Environmental Enforcement Association after the company pleaded guilty to a federal charge of making an unpermitted discharge. The company's owner, Ben W. Lupo, was sentenced in August to 28 months in prison for his role in ordering the 33 illegal dumps between October 2012 and January 2013, according to court documents (see Shale DailyAug. 6, 2014Feb. 19, 2013).