Residents Near Rigs Should Stay Prepared - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

04/04/07 - Nacogdoches County

Residents Near Rigs Should Stay Prepared

by Donna McCollum

As soon as the blowout occurred on a gas rig near Melrose workers went into action. Personnel and nearby residents were evacuated. There was no fire or explosion. No one was hurt. As it turned out the evacuation probably wasn't necessary, but it was a precautionary move that helped guarantee everyone's safety.

Running a big rig involves a lot of time and money. So it makes good business sense to make sure the rigs are operating properly. However, they are complex and accidents can happen.   An equipment mechanical failure caused the blowout. Drilling supervisors say this happened despite passage of a mandatory inspection.

The county's emergency coordinator Robert Hurst said this kind of mishap is what  comes with drilling activity.    " It is somewhat the nature of the beast due to the shear number of the wells coming into our area. My experience, so far, with the operators in Nacogdoches County is overall they are extremely safe. They try to do business in a proper matter."

Such as protecting nearby resident Evelyn Cofer. She lives down the road, but was unaware of the emergency.   She left to run errands in town,  but no one told her she wouldn't be able to return home. The 84 year old remembers how her dad collected oil in a bucket from shallow wells. She feels safe enough around the rigs.    " Well, I think there's always some danger in things, but I'm not all that worried about things."

Nevertheless, it's wise for residents living near the big rigs to keep an emergency bag packed with clothes and medicines. This is a practice Mrs Cofer will have to learn.    " No, I don't ever go anywhere, so I guess I just would get up and leave, but I would if I had known what this was. I would have taken medicine and a few things like that."

Prior to bedtime, officials let her return to the home that's close to her birthplace. She's wanting to get a gas well lease on her farm, just like her daddy did.  

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