Doddridge County: WVDEP Orders Antero to Provide More Information

The Gilmer Free Press

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) told Antero Resources they want more information about what the company believes caused an explosion at a Doddridge County natural gas well last month.

Last Thursday’s follow-up order demands that Antero provide all the information the company used in an initial report on the blast.

Click H E R E Read WVDEP Antero Order

The action comes after Antero filed a two-page report on Wednesday that blamed the explosion on a buildup of gas from tanks used to store flow-back water from the process of preparing the well for natural gas production. The report also stated that weather conditions intensified the accumulation potential gas buildup.

Last Wednesday was the legal deadline under an order issued by DEP on July 10, 2013.

DEP inspectors had initially said that the flow-back tanks had exploded, perhaps because of a buildup of either natural gas or other vapors. DEP said that a nearby pump that had malfunctioned could have ignited the gas.

The July 07, 2013 explosion resulted in the deaths of Jason Mearns, age 37, of Beverly on July 28, 2013 and Tommy Paxton, age 45, of Walton on July 24, 2013. Both men were being treated at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Three more men are still in hospital, including Arbogast from Lewis County. Arbogast is a member of Pricetown Fire Department.

The new order did not provide a deadline for Antero to turn in additional information. However, DEP’s original cease operations order remains in effect until the company provides the additional information requested by state officials.

Doddridge County Explosion: Second Death

The Gilmer Free Press

A Randolph County man is the second to die from injuries suffered in the July 07, 2013 gas well explosion at an Antero Resources operation in Doddridge County.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office in Pittsburgh said 37-year-old Jason Mearns from Beverly died Sunday morning.

He was being treated at the West Penn Burn Unit in the weeks since the blast in New Milton, WV.

Roane County resident Tommy Paxton, 45, died last week at the same burn unit from injuries he suffered in the explosion.

OSHA and the West Virginia DEP are continuing their investigations into the incident.

Ritchie County: Argument Leaves One Dead

The Gilmer Free Press

A Ritchie County man was charged with murder over the weekend after allegedly shooting his father to death following an argument.

West Virginia State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous said troopers from the Harrisville detachment went to a home on Penn Avenue in Pennsboro late Saturday to respond to reports of shots fired.

When they got there, Steven Fisher, age 22, was outside waiting for them, Baylous said.

Baylous said Fisher allegedly shot and killed his father, Michael Clarence Ogle Jr., age 52, with a .357 Magnum revolver after an argument.

Fisher was charged with murder.

He is being held without bond at the North Central Regional Jail.

Braxton County Deputies Say Woman Died After Hitting Fence

The Gilmer Free Press

A Braxton County woman died over the weekend after her vehicle crashed into a fence.

The woman was driving along WV Highway 4 in Gassaway, WV on Sunday, July 21, 2013, when the accident occurred, Braxton County deputies said.

Deputies said that upon impact, part of the fence came crashing into the windshield, striking the woman.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

The woman’s name has not been released.

Ritchie County: Body of Man Found in Pond

The Gilmer Free Press

Police officials are investigating the death of a man whose body was found in a pond near Pennsboro, WV.

The Ritchie County Sheriff’s Department tells media outlets that 43-year-old Kirk C. Guth was reported missing around 11:00 PM Saturday, July 20, 2013.

Guth’s body was found in a pond on his father’s property.

The body has been sent to the state Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

Roane County Woman Killed When Truck Crashed into a House

The Gilmer Free Press

Police have arrested the driver of a pickup truck that crashed into a house in Roane County, killing one person and injuring another.

23-year-old Chaz Simmons of Spencer, WV is charged with DUI causing death and DUI causing injury.

The Roane County Sheriff’s Department says a truck driven by Simmons ran off Route 36 and hit the house near Looneyville around 3:00 AM Thursday, July 18, 2013.

Thirty-year-old Kelly Casto was killed and 38-year-old William Cottrell was severely injured.

Cottrell is listed in serious condition at Charleston Area Medical Center.

Police say Casto and Cottrell were asleep inside the house when the accident occurred.

Simmons was treated for minor injuries and released.

Roane County Man Killed in I-77 Crash

West Virginia State Police say two men checking on a fox den made a grim discovery in Jackson County, WV on Tuesday, July 16, 2013.

The men found a pickup truck partially submerged in Sand Creek near I-77.

The driver Carey Emery, Age 57, of Reedy, WV was dead and troopers estimate he had been there three to five days.

“The neighbor fortunately had noted a fox den in the past and occasionally went out there to check it out,” said State Trooper J.P. Murphy. “If he hadn’t done that, there’s no telling how long this gentleman would have been in the river.”

The Gilmer Free Press
Volunteer firemen recovered the body

Murphy said Emery lived alone and did not have regular contact with anybody, so he had not been missed.

Troopers believe Emery was headed south on I-77.

They found his tire tracks in the median where he traveled 333 feet to the edge of the road before his truck went airborne over a 50 to 60 foot embankment.

“The truck went airborne another 130 feet as it was dropping the 50 to 60 feet,” said Murphy. “It landed nose first on some rocks and flipped end over end and landed in the creek.”

Murphy said the water level in the creek had dropped since the accident. It’s unclear what caused Emery to lose control.

~~  Chris Lawrence ~~

WVDEP Issues Cease Operations Order to Antero

The Gilmer Free Press

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Oil and Gas has issued a Cease Operations Order to Antero Resources in connection with the company’s Ruddy Alt gas well pad in Doddridge County.

The Ruddy Alt pad was the site of a July 07, 2013 well fire in which five workers were injured during operations on the well.

The cause of the fire on the pad’s Hinterer Unit 1H well is under investigation.

As part of the OOG order, which halts all well work on the Ruddy Alt pad, Antero must submit a report to the OOG on or before July 31, 2013, that demonstrates a knowledge and understanding as to the cause of the July 07, 2013 incident; demonstrates Antero’s ability to safely resume operations on the well pad; outlines future preventive measures that will safeguard from similar future incidents; and confirm that any possible pollutants were contained on site.

Antero Well in Doddridge County to Remain Closed After Blast

The Gilmer Free Press

State regulators have ordered Antero Resources to cease operations at a north-central West Virginia gas well pad where five workers were burned in an explosion.

The Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Oil and Gas said Friday the cause of Sunday’s fire at the Hinterer 1H well near New Milton in Doddridge County remains under investigation.

Colorado-based Antero must submit a report to the DEP by July 31 explaining what caused the accident and how it plans to safely resume operations.

The report must also include preventive measures the company plans to avoid similar incidents.

Antero says methane gas ignited as the crew was completing the well.

The DEP said the blast ruptured two tanks containing flow back water, but the secondary apparently containment system captured the fluid as designed.

WV State Police: Braxton Boy Deceased for ‘A Considerable Amount of Time’

A Braxton County mother was jailed and charged with child neglect resulting in death following the loss of her 8-year-old son.

Sgt. Michael Baylous from West Virginia State Police talked about the case on Friday in South Charleston.

West Virginia State Police were called when hospice caregivers were turned away by Valarie Brown, age 38, at the front door of her Sutton home on several occasions.

Her son Levi Burroughs was under the care of hospice because he suffered from Hurler’s Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes organ damage and eventual death.

Most children afflicted with Hurler’s Syndrome do not live past the age of 10.

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Sgt. Michael Baylous

“Obviously, [hospice] felt there was a need to get in there and provide treatment for this child and they were being denied that access,” explained First Sgt. Michael Baylous with the West Virginia State Police.

When the trooper arrived with a hospice worker on Thursday, Mrs. Brown once again resisted letting anyone into the home, but eventually allowed them inside. They found Levi deceased in a bed, wrapped in a blanket, his body partially decomposed.

Baylous said the child had been dead for “a considerable amount of time.”

“The child was denied care, denied care!  Mrs. Brown did not allow Hospice to come in and provide the proper care and treatment that that child needed.”

Investigators are awaiting the results of an autopsy. What they find will be key to determining if Brown is charged with a more serious crime.

Baylous said the treatment of the boy was unconscionable.

“Here’s a child, in his last hours, was in conditions…He wasn’t in a loving and compassionate environment,” stated Baylous. “This child died alone!”

Police said they are familiar with Brown and “her pattern of behavior.” She’s been arrested on more than one occasion for drug related crimes.  Now investigators want to find out what she was doing in the last few days of her son’s life.

“We want to know where Ms. Brown was during that entire time and what she was out doing,” according to Baylous.  “Our investigators will work tirelessly on this.”

Brown also has a 6-year old son. He was last seen at the home this past weekend, but was staying with a grandparent at the time Brown was taken into custody.

She’s being held at the Central Regional Jail on $100,000 bail.

~~  Jennifer Smith ~~

Explosion at Doddridge County Fracking Site Seriously Injures Four

Federal investigators are trying to figure out what caused an explosion at Doddridge County fracking site over the weekend.

The blast injured at least seven people, including four workers who were sent to a hospital with life-threatening burns.

Residents and activists have long complained about safety practices by frackers operating in the state, where they draw natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation.

Traffic accidents involving trucks traveling to and from frack sites in the state are common, and explosions can be deadly.

Hydraulic fracturing was not underway at the time of Sunday’s blast in Doddridge County, WV.

The explosion occurred 50 yards away from the work crew and it did not involve the drilling rig.

From Reuters:

Two storage tanks containing brine and fracking fluid from the well exploded at 4 AM EDT on Sunday Antero spokesman Alvyn Schopp said. Five workers were taken to hospital with burns, he said.

“We do not know the ignition source, but we suspect it was a methane explosion,” said Schopp, vice president at Antero, an oil and natural gas company controlled by Warburg Pincus LLC.


The Gilmer Free Press
Fracking fFire at a Wetzel County Frack Site in 2010


The cause of the explosion remains a mystery, but it could not have come as a huge surprise to fed-up residents of the state.

In April, two workers were killed and two others were injured by an explosion at a frack site in Tyler County, WV, though the story was quickly buried amid news of the Boston marathon bombings.

Also in April, AlterNet published a feature article that cataloged frackers’ shoddy safety records in West Virginia, and described the pollution that they cause.

The piece includes a series of photographs of accidents, including the photo here , of a fire that burned for more than a week at a well site in September 2010:

“It burned for something like nine days,” Ed Wade, the resident who shot the photograph, told AlterNet. “But the [West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection] said there were no cases of air pollution. You believe that?”

~~  John Upton ~~

Doddridge County: Antero Idles WV Well Site; 5 Workers Burned

The Gilmer Free Press

A fire at a natural gas drilling site in Doddridge County is under investigation after 8 workers were injured.

It happened Sunday around 4 AM at an Antero Resources operation near New Milton.

BANCS Volunteer Fire Chief Randy Trent said he got the call that the VFD needed to assist emergency services with a burn patient but soon got word it was a lot worse.

“Just after we left our station, our dispatch came back and told us there was a well fire and numerous burn patients,” explained Trent.

In fact, the crew hadn’t even arrived on scene when they met up with some of the victims.

“As we were traveling towards the scene, on West Virginia Route 18, we met different private vehicles that had patients in them,” according to Trent. “We were able to get some of them transferred to ambulances.”

The crew then headed to the accident site. Trent says he and a worker from Antero were the first to inspect the scene. They found two fracking tanks on fire. They were more than 50-feet away from the actual drilling rig. Flames were shooting about 8-10 feet into the air.

The firefighters brought their equipment to the drill pad and were able to extinguish the flames.

“We were able to use foam and put the fire out,” said Trent.

Eight workers were injured in the fire. Five of them were flown to the West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh according to a spokesman from Antero. Three others were transported to local hospitals. No word yet on their conditions.

Trent said it was a difficult situation to handle.

“Anytime you’re dealing with the severely injured like we were [Sunday], it’s a very traumatic situation, if not a scary situation.”

OSHA has been called in to investigate. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection was also notified.

This was not the first fire at an Antero site here in West Virginia. Last year, a fire at an Antero drilling site in Harrison County injured three workers. The company was cited by the DEP.

Antero operates 15 drilling sites, in seven counties in West Virginia. The company is based out of Denver, Colorado.

~~  Jennifer Smith ~~

Doddridge County: Gas Well Explosion

The Gilmer Free Press

As the result of a gas well explosion eight (8) workers were injured.

The blast happened about 4:00 AM early Sunday morning, July 07, 2013 at a well site off of Brushy Fork Road in New Milton owned by Antero Resources.

Antero Resources confirmed the location of the accident as the Hinterer 2H Well on the Ruddy Alt Pad.

An investigation is underway into the explosion.

Four of the workers were transported to the West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

The others were taken to in-state hospitals.

There is no word on their conditions at this time.

The company operates 15 drilling rigs, in 7 counties, in North Central West Virginia.

Antero is based out of Denver, Colorado.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the WVDEP inspectors were on the scene early Sunday morning following the explosion.

the West Virginia Department of Oil and Gas was also alerted.

Antero Resources has also contacted a third party to investigate and inspect the well site.

According to Kevin Kilstrom, Vice President of Production for Antero Resources, the well was drilled and completed, and crews were preparing to enter production tubing into the well.

In addition to the well two frack tanks were a part of the accident.

ATV and Car Collision in Doddridge County

The Gilmer Free Press

According to a Doddridge County Sheriff Deputy an ATV driven by Rocky Locke, Age 28, of Doddridge County, WV, struck a car in a T-bone style collision while traveling on Route 23 near Roundbottom Road.

Locke was flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital by Air Evac Lifeteam.

The driver of the car did not sustain serious injuries.

Locke suffered extensive injuries and is currently in critical condition at Ruby Memorial Hospital.

Harrison County Prosecutor to Seek Charge in Boy’s Shooting

The Gilmer Free Press

Harrison County Prosecutor Joe Shaffer says he’ll seek an indictment of a Jarvisville woman who shot her 11-year-old grandson to death while firing a weapon in the dark at suspected intruders.

Shaffer said he wants a grand jury to consider the case against 57-year-old Tina Owens when it meets in September.

Sheriff Albert Marano says Owens fired multiple shots from a .40-caliber handgun Sunday night.

One pierced the wall of her son’s home about 200 yards away.

The bullet hit William Owens in the chest as he lay in bed.

Other children in the home at the time were unharmed.

Shaffer says gun ownership and the responsibility that accompanies it are important public issues, and 16 citizens should consider it.

He says it’s a difficult but necessary decision.

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