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Chevron to Pay Nearly $1M For Fatal Pennsylvania Well Fire

Chevron Corp. has agreed to pay a $939,552 civil penalty to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a deadly explosion and fire that raged for days last year at a three-well pad in Greene County (see Shale Daily, Feb. 11, 2014).

The fire killed a contractor on site and left another worker injured. The civil penalty is in addition to Chevron's settlement with the contractor's family, in which it agreed to pay about $5 million in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Ian Mckee's family. Mckee, 27, of Morgantown, WV, was found dead at the site days after the blast.

DEP said the penalty stemmed from Chevron Appalachia LLC's failure to "construct and operate the well site to ensure that health safety and environment were protected," as required by state law. DEP said natural gas was emitted into the air and production fluids discharged from the damaged wells on the pad until they were capped by a team of specialists nearly a week later (see Shale Daily, Feb. 18, 2014).

Part of the penalty would be used for costs DEP incurred during response and remediation efforts after the fire broke out on Feb. 11, 2014. The incident occurred in Dunkard Township, about 70 miles south of Pittsburgh.

A DEP investigation found that a failed gland nut and lockscrew assembly, used to secure wellhead equipment, had been ejected, causing gas to leak (see Shale Daily, Aug. 7, 2014). The Lanco 7H well was the first to catch fire and eventually extinguished itself four days later, while the Lanco 6H burned for one day.

The incident also prompted Chevron to temporarily suspend its operations across the state to ensure its wellhead equipment was safe to operate.

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