PITTSBURGH (AP) — One worker was injured and another went missing after a Tuesday morning explosion and fire at a natural gas well in southwestern Pennsylvania, near the West Virginia border.
Chevron said the fire was reported about 6:45 a.m. at the Lanco 7H well in Dunkard Township, near Bobtown, about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. Chevron spokeswoman Lee Ann Wainwright said one worker remained missing Tuesday night and the other worker was released from the hospital after being treated for minor injuries. The workers' names were not released.
Department of Environmental Protection spokesman John Poister said the well is located in a rural area where no homes or schools are located nearby. He said a DEP team at the site found no signs of threats to public health, noting that the fire was burning off volatile organic compounds in the gas. However, the fire was burning so hot that DEP crews have had to stay about 300 yards away, he said.
Poister said the agency now suspects the explosion and fire occurred on the surface and didn't happen inside the well itself. The industry refers to incidents where they lose control of an oil or gas well as blowouts, but they can take place inside a well — because of a rapid increase in oil or gas pressure that ruptures pipes — or at the surface, because of sparks or other causes. Poister said further investigation will be needed.