CAMERON - A flatbed truck carrying a Chesapeake Energy natural gas drilling rig flipped while traveling on Cameron Ridge Tuesday afternoon, closing the road and taking out several utility poles in the process.
"There have been accidents before, but this is the first time they have taken down power lines," said Mike Mucheck, deputy director of the Marshall County Office of Emergency Management regarding the drilling companies. "They seem to bring a lot of inconvenience."
An American Electric Power spokesman said all electricity should be restored by this morning, and other officials said the road should be reopened by today. Mucheck said the truck would be transported to Cameron.
Marshall County Sheriff John Gruzinskas did not know late Tuesday if the driver of the truck would be cited for the accident, or if there were any injuries in the crash.
Jim Richardson, operations manager with Mercer Well Service, working on behalf of Chesapeake, said the accident occurred around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, when the rig caught a power line, breaking a utility pole. He said drilling equipment has traveled on the road many times with no problems.
"The Mercer Well Service Rig was traveling on a permitted route. Emergency responders were contacted immediately," Richardson added via e-mail.
"A portion of the road was closed until the power company was on the scene to safely resolve the issue. There were no injuries, other damages or any other vehicles involved in the incident."
This traffic accident is but one example of the hazards the drilling industry can cause on West Virginia's rugged terrain. The Wetzel County Action Group - on its website at www.wcag-wv.org - showcases photos and videos of large trucks running off the side of roads that are not designed to handle such vehicles.
Also, a Chesapeake gas well on Pleasants Ridge near Cameron ignited in September. For this incident, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection officials cited Chesapeake for "failing to prevent the release of natural gas and the potential pollution of waters of the state."
However, Chesapeake is not the only driller to experience such difficulties. An AB Resources well about 6 miles south of Moundsville exploded in June, after workers penetrated a methane pocket in an abandoned coal mine.
State regulators ultimately cited AB Resources for failing to set casing at the permitted depth for the site, and for inaccurately reporting coal seam depth.
Still other residents have complained about possible water contamination and air pollution caused by the heavy drilling activity in Marshall and Wetzel counties.