A Pennsylvania County court approved a $5-million settlement Tuesday between Chevron Appalachia and the parents of a man killed in a 2014 natural gas explosion at a fracking operation in the southwestern corner of the state.
Ian McKee was 27 when he was killed in a violent explosion at the Marcellus Shale fracking well on Feb. 11, 2014. He had been working as a field service technician for Houston-based Cameron International Corp., which Chevron had contracted for service work at the well site, when the blast occurred, setting off a fire that raged for five days before it burned out.
McKee’s parents, Denise and Robert McKee, filed the wrongful-death lawsuit last summer in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, accusing the Chevron subsidiary of negligence. The plaintiffs argued that the company inadequately maintained its well sites, failed to train its workers sufficiently, and poorly planned and operated its natural gas wells.
Last August, Pennsylvania regulators released a report that said a Cameron International contractor who was not properly trained nor supervised was directed to loosen an apparatus on the wellhead to bring it into production, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The report doesn’t identify the worker by name but does state it was not Mr. McKee.
A few days later, the well exploded after a lock pin became displaced from the well head, allowing gas to escape to the surface and ignite.
According to the report, Mr. McKee and another worker approached the well when they heard a hissing sound coming from it. The worker with Mr. McKee was injured when the gas erupted.
Of the total settlement, $2.9 million is going into a trust fund for Mr. McKee’s young son, Ian Robert McKee Jr. Mr. McKee’s fiancée gave birth to their son months after Mr. McKee was killed, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.