Antero report on fatal July 7 wellpad explosion found incomplete - Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Antero report on fatal July 7 wellpad explosion found incomplete

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The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has issued a follow-up Cease Operations order for an Antero Resources Doddridge County wellpad, saying the report the company filed on the July 7 explosion that has resulted in two deaths is insufficient.

The order was issued Aug. 1 in response to the company's July 31 report that was to detail, in part, the cause of the explosion and findings about any release of pollutants.

"This report shall include all information that was used by Antero to come to such conclusion and how Antero made this final determination as to the cause of the incident," the order states, seeking background to the July 31 report's cursory list of the conditions contributing to the incident."

And, with regard to Antero's assertion in the July 31 report that no pollutants were released, "Antero shall provide a rationale expressing how it was deemed that no pollutants were released during this incident."

Five men employed by three contractors were flown to the West Penn Hospital Burn Center in Pittsburgh following the early morning July 7 explosion at Antero's Ruddy Alt wellpad in Doddridge County.

Two have since died: Tommy Paxton, 45, of Walton, on July 24 and Jason Mearns, 37, of Beverly on July 28.

DEP ordered the company on July 10 to cease operations at the wellpad, seeking a report by July 31 that demonstrated knowledge of the cause of the incident, ability to safely resume operations, outlined future preventive measures and confirmed that pollutants were contained.

Without explanation, Antero's report attributed the explosion to a combination of the presence and accumulation of gas from storage tanks on location, weather conditions exacerbating the accumulation of the gas, a concentration of heavier-than-methane hydrocarbons in the gas mixture and an apparent ignition source near a skid pump at the site.

Antero said in the report that it plans to take steps in the future at all well completion locations, including among them a requirement that all personnel  wear portable gas monitors. The company also said it will consider installing fixed gas monitors for each location based on individual site risk assessments.

The report said, without offering evidence, that pollutants were not released.

DEP's follow-up order did not place a deadline on the submission it requires of Antero.