Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hydrofracking: A Personal Testimony and Warning

Silica dust in the air
Hello: My name is Carl L. Mc Williams, I am married to Karen and we live in Garfield County, Colorado. There are over 10,000 active CH4 (methane) gas wells inside Garfield County, Colorado.

I spent one full year working on these CH4 wells. I was employed by  LONKAR US LTD. a Canadian company and I worked on a "swabbing rig". We were not part of the exploration (drilling). We serviced existing and producing natural gas wells. A swabbing rig is a "workover-rig" and our purpose was to remove water from the well that had stopped the flow of natural gas in a producing well. It turns out that the water we were removing was residual "fracing" water and we were never informed of the benzene and other chemicals that exist in this "production water".

In March of 2008, my swabbing rig was working on a well site where the gas company had reused the same "fracing" fluids in an attempt to save money. The problem with that is the reusing of "fracing" fluids causes the manifestation of H2S, (Hydrogen Sulfide Gas) which, in doses above 50 ppm for 30 minutes is deadly. My co-worker died and I spent three months in recovery. My employer and the billion dollar energy company basically lied and covered-up their gross negligence in ordering my co-worker and I to expose ourselves to the deadly H2S without proper safety equipment, such as supplied-air-respirators. Federal OSHA fined my employer. I blew the whistle to OSHA and was fired for doing so. My whistleblower case with OSHA is still pending and I have been black-balled from the industry.

That said, I do want to bring to your attention a very deadly practice that is taking place on every "fracing" job site. "Fracing" uses silica sand in the "fracing mix". The truck drivers, pulling "sand-cans" (box-car-size-trailers) full of silica sand arrive at the well site and using high pressure pumps unload from the "sand-cans" the silica sand into the "fracing tanks". During this process there is created a silica sand dust cloud that is much more dangerous than asbestos. Just as cut glass will lacerate the flesh of your arm, this silica sand dust is an airborne particulate, that when breathed into the lungs will cause lung damage that is a quicker death than asbestos exposure and extremely painful for the victim.

I informed Federal OSHA of this danger to Americans but nothing has happened from OSHA yet.

Therefore, I am informing you folks. The gas drilling industry has an expression: "WELL-FIELD-TRASH". The corporate officers of the natural gas industry considers all of their well workers to be "TRASH". The worker safety-protection measures on these gas well sites is non-existent.

Pass the word about the silica sand dust these Americans are breathing

Carl McWilliams
Silt Mesa, Colorado

This piece was originally published here.


Unknown said...

Powerful, sad and scary. Hadn't read this before. Thanks for posting.

smurfette said...

It's just mind-boggling to me that the higher-ups in the gas industry look down on these hard-working folks. Without these people, the CEOs and their cohorts wouldn't have made one red cent. If I were the CEO of one of these companies, I probably wouldn't last too long because I'd insist that my workers have protection from things that could KILL them, which would cost the company a few dollars. How many and which workers are "expendable"- maybe they should include that in the job descriptions. You know, something like "just so you know, if you take this job, we pretty much don't care if you live or die, so good luck!"

The superiors, who allowed this accident to happen and did not provide proper safety equipment, should be charged with murder.