Huntley & Huntley, Inc, a geologic and engineering consulting company for the oil and natural gas industry, recently agreed to pay the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) $32,000 for a fatal gas well explosion in Allegheny County earlier this year.
On July 23, 2010, two employees of Northeast Energy Management were contracted by Huntley & Huntley to perform repairs on an oil storage tank at a company gas well site. As they were welding the oil storage tank, it exploded, releasing toxic chemicals and causing the well head to catch on fire. Both workers were killed by the explosion.
Huntley & Huntley responded to the explosion immediately, summoning the local fire department and emergency management response teams as well as flying in a specialty well control company. According to DEP Secretary John Hanger, the company's prompt response helped to "limit the environmental impact of the explosion and return the site to a safe condition."
Of the $32,000 settlement with DEP, $7,000 is reimbursement for the department's out-of-pocket costs and $25,000 is a civil penalty owed under an agreement to resolve violations of the Oil and Gas Act and the Solid Waste Management Act.
According to the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, the company denies any violations; the county fire marshal cleared Huntley & Huntley, concluding that the fatal accident was caused by the contractor employees. Huntley & Huntley issued a statement indicating it is seeking full reimbursement from Northeast Energy Management.