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New Threat to Oilfield Workers Comes from an Unexpected Quarter


Oilfield workers face enough hazards on a daily basis. The oil patch is a harsh work environment, filled with dangerous machinery and miles of highly pressurized pipes. Toxic chemicals, equipment failure and explosions are common hazards on the job, but a new threat eclipses all of these dangers.

Earthquakes are causing unseen problems

Back in March, we wrote about the steep increase in earthquakes as a result of fracking and wastewater injection (known as induced seismicity). The energy industry has stopped claiming that these practices are safe; causation has been established, and energy companies can now be held liable for earthquake damage.

However, the damage isn’t limited to homes and business; all of this shaking affects underground structures too. According to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s Pipeline Safety Department, there are more than 43,500 miles of pipeline with more than 224 junctions running beneath the state. A break at any one point in the extensive pipeline could be catastrophic, and each of the 857 earthquakes last year had the potential to cause that break.

Bloomberg reported that, in late April, “…natural gas from one of the nation’s most important pipelines leaked and exploded into a fireball hundreds of feet in the air. Residents of the area said they could feel shocks from the blast as far as six miles away. Friday’s conflagration, in a rural area near Pittsburgh, injured a man and caused Spectra Energy to shut the 36-inch Texas Eastern pipeline, which brings gas from western Pennsylvania to the Northeast.”

Proposed pipelines are being reconsidered, and perhaps the potential dangers (and expense) of pipeline breaks will provide the incentive for energy companies to reconsider dangerous practices. Until the industry sees reason, it’s business as usual, albeit a business that is more dangerous today than it was yesterday.

At Stipe Law Firm, we understand the oil field industry. When accidents happen, we work with professionals to make sure that regulations were followed and that precautions were taken to ensure a work environment was as safe as possible. If you or your loved one was injured in an oil field accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Call (918) 505-7741 or contact the experienced Oklahoma oil field accident attorneys at Stipe Law Firm today for a free consultation.