An oilfield worker responded to a nighttime call to check on a pump house. After the worker failed to come home when expected, his wife, knowing the location, went to look for him. Exposure to hydrogen sulfide in the pump house killed them both.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a news release announcing that the worker’s employer, the company’s vice president, and a related company will all face criminal charges.
Produced Water Contaminated with Hydrogen Sulfide
According to the news release, a pump failed in the pump house, causing a leak of produced water contaminated with hydrogen sulfide. DOJ alleges the company knew its produced water contained high levels of hydrogen sulfide and failed to take adequate precautions.
OSHA’s investigation found the company made false statements about the integrity of the produced water injection wells in forms filed with a state agency. Moreover, DOJ alleges the company and its vice president unlawfully obstructed OSHA’s investigations in statements made in interviews.
Multiple Criminal Charges from the Deaths, False Statements, and Obstruction
The Company and its vice president were charged with violating the Clean Air Act by releasing hydrogen sulfide, obstructing OSHA’s investigation, violating the Safe Drinking Water Act, and making false statements in forms filed with state agency. An affiliated company was also included in the Safe Drinking Water Act charges.
To see the news release https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/charges-filed-connection-texas-oilfield-deaths