Bones examined from Chevron fire site in Pennsylvania

by Reuters
Thursday, 20 February 2014 18:05 GMT

By Elizabeth Daley

Pittsburgh, Feb 20 (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania coroner was attempting on Thursday to extract DNA from bone fragments thought to belong to a contractor who was working at a Chevron natural gas well when it exploded in Greene County last week.

Ian McKee, 27, from Morgantown, West Virginia, was reported missing after the Lanco 7H well exploded on Feb. 11, causing a fire that raged for five days and kept emergency crews from approaching the scene. The bone fragments, burnt during the blaze, were recovered on Wednesday.

McKee, who was expecting a child with his fiancee, worked for drilling equipment maker Cameron International.

Police will officially notify McKee's family when the Greene County Coroner's Office is able to identify the DNA, said state trooper Stephanie Plume.

The fire broke out as workers were preparing to run tubing down the well shaft last week. Chevron said that no drilling or fracking was taking place when the incident occurred, but it has no detail on the cause.

Another worker was also injured in the explosion but has since been released from hospital.

Three days after the first well burst into flames, two other adjacent wells on the same drilling pad caught fire. These wells burned out a day later by themselves.

Chevron said in a statement on Tuesday that the situation at the site was still dangerous. It is working with Wild Well Control, a well fire specialist, to cool the fire site.

The Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit allowing the company to pipe over one million gallons of water per day from nearby Dunkard Creek to cool the area and minimize the potential of re-ignition during response efforts. (Editing by Edward McAllister and Andrew Hay)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.