One man is dead and two more seriously injured after a Thursday morning accident involving a high-pressure water line at a fracking well site in southwestern Weld County, CO.
Matthew Smith, 36, of Brighton, CO, died and the two injured men ended up transported to nearby hospitals with serious injuries. Thomas Sedlmayr, 48, flew via helicopter to Denver Health, and Grant Casey, 28, went by ambulance to Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, said Weld County Sheriff’s Office officials.
The men all work for Halliburton, which worked via contract with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. to conduct fracking operations there, said Sean Standridge, spokesman for the sheriff’s office. Fracking operations had not yet begun at the site, officials said.
The accident occurred at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the well site located off of Weld County Road 9 1/2 just north of Colo. 66 near Mead.
The three men were trying to heat a frozen high-pressure water line, Standridge said. In the warming process, something went wrong, causing the line to rupture, he said.
Smith ended up hit by a stream of fresh water with an estimated pressure of 3,500 to 4,500 psi, Standridge said. As a point of comparison, the typical working pressure of a fire hose is 50 to 100 psi, said Greeley Fire Department Chief Duane McDonald. There was no fracking fluid in the pipe; it was a pre-fracking operation.
An official cause of death is still under investigation, but it appears Smith died from the water’s impact. He died at the scene.
“This is a very difficult time for all of us at Halliburton, and we are working with local authorities as they look into the details of this incident,” said Chevalier Mayes, spokeswoman for Halliburton. “Our thoughts and prayers are with our employees’ loved ones.”
“We want to make sure all oil and gas sites have comprehensive safety and health programs in place to address all potential health hazards,” said Herb Gibson, Denver Area Director for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). “The most common at a well site are struck-by hazards, fires, explosions and exposure to chemicals, such as hydrocarbons.”