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The rise of hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale has caused an explosion of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as hydro fracking or fracking, is one way to access the reserves of natural gas and petroleum hidden underground inside shale pores. In order to do this, horizontal tunnels, called “veins” are blasted underground off of a vertical well. Then, a horizontal well is pumped full of a mixture of chemicals, sand and water at an extremely high pressure. This liquid blast causes breaks in the rock that branch off, releasing gas, oil and water into the cracks. The gases and oils are then forced into the horizontal wells and flow up to the storage tanks. Not only has this process has produced record profits for landowners, drillers and contractors; it has made allowed the United States to become a leader in oil production.
Because nearly all of West Virginia lies on the Marcellus Shale, many of our citizens work in the oil industry. Although this is currently one of the most popular jobs, it is also one of the most dangerous. From the moment of injury, companies and insurance adjusters are working to protect their interests, which will be contrary to the injured worker’s. They will attempt to obtain statements and authorizations from workers who are injured as well as the families of those who were killed on the job before they have a chance to consult with an attorney to fully understand their rights. These documents will later be used against the workers and their families in any legal actions. Oftentimes the injured party gets taken advantage of in their time of vulnerability and is prevented from the full relief to which they are entitled.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a Shale Gas industry accident, contact our office immediately for advice on how to proceed.