Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia:
Well before this month’s fatal explosion at Upper Big Branch, the country’s worst mine disaster in 40 years, the lack of proper ventilation had been a continuing concern among its miners. The fear of methane building while oxygen dropped preyed on their minds.
“I have had guys come to me and cry,” said the veteran foreman. “Grown men cried — because they are scared.”
But workers in the mine said they did not dare question the company’s safety practices, even when asked to perform a dubious task.
“It was all about production,” said Andrew Tyler, 22, an electrician who two years ago worked as a subcontractor on the wiring for the coal conveyer belt and other equipment at Upper Big Branch. “If you worked for them, you didn’t ask questions about whether some step like running a cable around the breaker was a smart idea. You just did it.”
BP leased, Trans Ocean owned Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf Of Mexico:
A confidential survey of workers on the Deepwater Horizon in the weeks before the oil rig exploded showed that many of them were concerned about safety practices and feared reprisals if they reported mistakes or other problems.
In the survey, commissioned by the rig’s owner, Transocean, workers said that company plans were not carried out properly and that they “often saw unsafe behaviors on the rig.”
Some workers also voiced concerns about poor equipment reliability, “which they believed was as a result of drilling priorities taking precedence over planned maintenance,” according to the survey, one of two Transocean reports obtained by The New York Times.
“At nine years old, Deepwater Horizon has never been in dry dock,” one worker told investigators. “We can only work around so much.”
“Run it, break it, fix it,” another worker said. “That’s how they work.”
EOG Resources natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale Natural Gas reserve near Harrisburg, PA:
A natural gas drilling company failed to use a proper backup pressure-control system last month when hooking up a well to a pipeline, leading to a major blowout in Pennsylvania that spewed gas and wastewater for 16 hours, a state investigation has found.
EOG Resources Inc. of Houston, which operates nearly 300 wells in Pennsylvania, cut corners by not using a second set of pressure-control devices, a consultant hired by the state concluded in a report issued Tuesday.
EOG took similar safety shortcuts on at least some of its other wells in Pennsylvania, where about half of its drilling operations are in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale reserve, a lucrative source of natural gas that has drawn scores of companies to the state.
“I don’t know any company that would cut corners like this on this kind of well,” said consultant John G. Vittitow, a Texas-based petroleum engineer. “This was just a bad decision and it caught up with them.”
In signed papers released Tuesday, EOG and its contractor, C.C. Forbes Co. of Texas agreed to maximum fines of more than $400,000 combined and to take corrective actions. But they also were allowed to resume all activities in Pennsylvania after the state had shut down some operations since the June 3 blowout.
Anything seem familiar?