The Times West Virginian

Local News

January 15, 2013

Details emerge in drilling death

FAIRMONT — A vehicle accident near Consol Energy’s Loveridge mine in Fairview on Monday resulted in the fatality of a drill rig worker.

Marion County Sheriff Joe Carpenter said the man was working at the Sugar Lane Portal when he was ejected from and crushed by the oil drilling rig buggy he was driving after it broke loose on a hill and rolled over.

According to a statement released by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, “a worker at a drill rig was reportedly killed when the drill rig overturned and crushed the victim.

“It has been reported that the drill rig was conducting exploratory work for Marcellus shale deposits. The drill rig was drilling 30-feet deep holes and setting off shots for the purpose of seismic testing for potential Marcellus drilling.”

The worker’s identity has not been released, but Carpenter said the man killed was an independent contractor who was employed by Omni Energy, an oil-field service company out of Louisiana.

Carpenter said the man was from out of state and in his early 40s.

Mark Stipe, vice president of Omni Energy, also declined to identify the man, but spoke of the incident.

“Omni was notified Monday evening of an accident involving one of our employees near Fairview, W.Va., which tragically resulted in his death,” Stipe said via email Tuesday evening. “The accident investigation is ongoing at this point, and we are cooperating fully with government officials.

“We mourn the loss of our employee, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family,” Stipe added.

Monday’s incident marks the second vehicle-related fatal accident at a Consol Energy mine within the past two months.

On Nov. 30, 2012, a dozer carrying operator Markel J. Koon, of Shinnston, fell into a slurry pond at the Robinson’s Run mine in Harrison County after a sudden embankment collapse.

MSHA’s statement from Monday’s accident said MSHA District 3 personnel responded and are investigating for possible jurisdiction under the Mine Act.

Information gathered will be reviewed by MSHA personnel in concert with the Office of the Solicitor for jurisdiction and possible chargeability, the statement read. OSHA has also responded and is working with MSHA to establish jurisdiction.

Consol Energy, which owns the Loveridge mine, also issued a statement Tuesday about the incident:

“At 6:10 p.m. Monday evening, Consol Energy was notified by an independent surface drilling subcontractor that one of its employees who was performing work near the Loveridge Preparation Plant was fatally injured when a small core drilling rig he was operating rolled over.

“Consol Energy granted Seitel Inc. access to its property to conduct geophysical seismic testing, for which it had obtained the necessary permits. The independent testing was not associated with Consol Energy’s active coal mining or gas operations.”

The statement said state and federal agencies as well as OSHA were onsite Tuesday to begin investigating the cause of the incident.

Consol Energy will provide updated information related to the investigation as it becomes available, according to the statement.

Email Kaylyn Christopher at kchristopher@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @KChristopherTWV.

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