DEP fines Chevron $940K for fatal gas well fire

  • Katie Colaneri
A fire broke out on a Chevron natural gas well pad in Dunkard Township, Greene County, Pa. on Feb. 11, 2014.

Katie Colaneri/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

A fire broke out on a Chevron natural gas well pad in Dunkard Township, Greene County, Pa. on Feb. 11, 2014.

A Chevron subsidiary has agreed to pay the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection $940,000 for multiple violations involving a 2014 fatal explosion at a natural gas well site in southwest Pennsylvania.

DEP spokesman John Poister said the penalty against Chevron Appalachia LLC was “among the largest fines” the agency has imposed.

Fires at two wells in Dunkard Township, Greene County burned for several days before they could be extinguished, but it took more than one week to find the remains of Ian McKee, 27, a contractor with Texas-based Cameron International who was killed in the blast.

State investigators ruled the explosion was caused by human error and faulted Chevron for poor supervision of workers on the site.

The company has agreed to violations including hazardous venting of gas and not properly controlling and containing production fluids, according to the Consent Assessment of Civil Penalty signed by both parties.

The company will not face fines for blocking state regulators from reaching the explosion site for nearly two days after the incident, which at the time the DEP said was in violation of the company’s permits.

“We felt that we had sent a message to Chevron and to the industry that that’s not going to be acceptable behavior in the past and we believe that that message has been received,” said Poister.

Chevron has agreed to pay $5 million to settle a wrongful death suit with McKee’s family. Most of the money will be paid to a trust established for McKee’s son who was born after the incident, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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