The practice of hydrofracking is on the rise in Pennsylvania. With energy prices reaching record highs, more companies are looking to tap the rich natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale area. According to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, the number of Marcellus Shale gas well drilling permits Pennsylvania issued increased by 300 percent from 2008 to 2009. The increased well drilling activity raises safety concerns and could lead to an increase in certain types of workers’ compensation claims.
What Is Hydrofracking?
Hydrofracking is the practice of drilling wells for natural gas by using a mixture of explosive chemicals and high-pressure sand and water streams. Workers shoot the mixture into the earth as far as a mile vertically and horizontally, breaking up the rock and releasing methane – the compound in natural gas. The workers then pump now-methane-infused hydrofracking liquids back up to collect the methane.
Safety Concerns With Hydrofracking
There are many safety concerns associated with Hydrofracking. Hydrofracking causes explosions underground in order to release the methane that the drillers want. However, the explosions also release radioactive, carcinogenic and otherwise toxic materials. Those substances can leak into nearby drinking water.
Furthermore, the chemicals that hydrofracking companies use can be very hazardous. Some of the chemicals drilling companies commonly use include:
- Ethylene glycol
- Glycol ethers
- Hydrochloric acid
- Sodium hydroxide
Workers’ Compensation Claims
There are several types of injuries that those who work on hydrofracking projects can sustain. The equipment that people use to inject the water, sand and chemical mixture into the ground is large, heavy and enormously powerful. Hydrofracking workers face the same risk of injury from the equipment as factory workers or construction workers, such as amputated limbs, broken bones, and muscle strains or sprains.
Additionally, exposure to the chemicals that are involved in the hydrofracking process could lead to illnesses or diseases such as cancer in the workers. Workers handling the chemicals also risk chemical burns or injuries from fires started by the chemicals if the chemicals spill.
Working on hydrofracking projects can be dangerous. If you have suffered an injury while hydrofracking, consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can help ensure that you get the benefits to which you are entitled.