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Wyoming Workers Sue Oil And Gas Company Over Explosion

Casper Star Tribune

Three workers have filed a lawsuit against EOG Resources after a natural gas explosion left them with severe injuries. EOG is among the state's top producers of natural gas and has been the state's largest producer of oil since 2015.

Matthew Adriance, Bodie Lee Schultz, and John Maffei were employees of Archrock Services at the time of the explosion. EOG had contracted with Archrock to maintain a natural gas compressor at a company wellsite in southeastern Wyoming.

On December 5th, 2019, Adriance and Schultz were sent to alter settings on the compressor, which was malfunctioning. Maffei was just outside the building. According to court documents, that's when a pipe that fed natural gas into the compressor began to leak and ignite.

"The whole thing happened really fast," said the men's attorney, Richard Honaker. "They heard a loud bang and then a flash fire swept through the building."

The men were transported to hospitals in Cheyenne and Colorado where they were treated for severe burns and other injuries.

The lawsuit claims that EOG's negligence caused the explosion and that the company failed to warn the workers about hazardous conditions.

Honaker said there's a lot that we still don't know: for example, whether the fault was in the pipe's design or its installation. He said that the discovery process - the pre-trial period when both sides must disclose information - as well as an ongoing investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will help reveal exactly what went wrong.

He noted that in any case, "EOG is the owner and operator of the wellsite. So, the buck stops there. They are responsible for maintaining a safe place to work."

In addition to compensation, Honaker said that better safety practices were a goal of the lawsuit. "These are young men with bright futures ahead of them that were in an explosion through no fault of their own," he said. "If they can make working conditions at compressor stations safer, that's an objective of the lawsuit, too."

EOG declined to comment on the litigation. A timeline will be set once the company responds to the allegations and both sides disclose initial information to the court.

Noa was born in Virginia Beach, VA, and grew up with a love of storytelling. From hosting local open mic nights to participating in creative writing workshops at college, Noa believes in the power of stories to unsettle our perspectives and spark empathy. With strong interests in environmental studies and the history of the American West, she could not be more excited and grateful to work with Wyoming Public Media.
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