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Deadline lingers for WV drilling blast report

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NEW MILTON, WV (AP) — Antero Resources is facing a deadline today to tell West Virginia regulators what it believes caused a fatal explosion at a Doddridge County gas drilling site and explain how it plans to prevent similar incidents.

Two workers died of burns after the July 7 blast near New Milton, which injured three others.

The state Department of Environmental Protection ordered Antero to submit a report by July 31, but DEP spokeswoman Kathy Cosco said it hadn't been submitted as of Tuesday.

Colorado-based Antero must explain how it plans to safely resume operations at the site, which was shut down for separate examinations by state, federal, company and independent investigators.

It's unclear what caused methane gas to ignite as work was wrapping up on the Hinterer 1H well.

Jason Mearns, 37, of Beverly died Sunday at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh. Tommy Paxton, 45, of Walton died at West Penn Hospital on July 24.

Both worked for Antero subcontractors.

Antero Vice President Al Schopp has said the crew was inserting a narrow production tube into the metal casing around the drilled hole when methane ignited.

The DEP said the blast ruptured two tanks containing flow back water that Antero had been reusing, but the secondary containment system captured the fluid as designed and none left the site.

 

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