5 natural gas drilling workers hospitalized after exposure to acid in well site accident


Five Natural Gas Workers Hospitalized After Exposure to Acid

NEW MARTINSVILLE, WV –  According to WTRF-TV, as of May 20,  five men were under observation in Wetzel County Hospital after being exposed to what Chesapeake Energy called “battery acid.”

The station reported “Chesapeake Energy says there was no fire at the well site, just ‘an incident in which they were exposed to a material in the drilling process.’”

From the story:

“Wetzel County Hospital was set up with lights, sirens and a decontamination unit in the parking lot.

“At 10:15 a.m., the hospital was given a heads-up that they had five patients coming in, who had been exposed to commercial battery acid from a methane well drilling accident.

“‘They were pumping the material into the well site and apparently it splashed back onto the individuals and it also vaporized, creating the problem that we had here today,’ said Chief Larry Couch with the New Martinsville Fire Department.

“‘We were able to set up a decontamination unit, bring in additional medical staff, and actually we had five doctors on hand at the time when the patients arrived,’ said George Couch, Wetzel County Hospital CEO. “I think it was chemical exposure. I couldn’t assess any serious chemical burns. Appeared to be some respiratory distress.”

“New Martinsville Police Chief Tim Cecil had to hold back curious onlookers….

. . . . .

“According to Hospital CEO George Couch, all five employees are admitted for observation and are all in fair condition.

“Chesapeake Energy says the well site has been secured and is no danger to the public.

“Several agencies are reportedly investigating.”

Here’s what one commenter had to say about the story:
“I’ve been a professional chemist for twenty-eight years, with a degree from West Virginia University, and this would be the first instance I’ve encountered where “commercial battery acid” (AKA sulfuric acid) could produce the kinds of vapors cited in this story.

“I believe that Chesapeake Energy should have referred to the material by its proper name: hydrochloric acid, which is very commonly used in the well development process.

“Why did they choose to lie about this?”