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Personal account of danger to drilling workers by
NANCY BEVINS

September 25, 2012 - I'd like to share our story about our son's death while working on a well pad in NY. I am sending a copy of the speech I gave (part of it) at Shale Gas Outrage in Philadelphia last week. I also started a small blog and I'd like to start adding other people's stories about losing a loved one (there are actually a lot, I just need to seek them out.)

Here is the address to the blog:
http://amotleymomsson.blogspot.com/

Nancy Bevins
West Virginia


UPDATE

"GASWORK: The Fight for CJ's Law"
A New Short Film on Worker Safety
in the Gas Fields by Josh Fox
 
 

My only son

As people skeptical of the gas industry, we are used to bad news. We shake our heads knowingly when we hear about another illegal dumping of frack waste. We scribble pages of statistics as the scientific community publishes newer findings of the dangerous health risks related to horizontal drilling. We pass reports through social networks of semi-truck wrecks, destroyed country roads and explosions. It is very easy to find ourselves in a frack pit of despair, apprehensive that the next article will be the one to finally knock us permanently on our backs.

But there is a less talked about risk in fracking circles. It is an aspect that many ignore. After all, no one is forced to put on a hard hat, just as no one is forced to sign a lease with a gas company. But if the industry can lie to and deceive a land owner, couldn't they just as easily lie to and deceive an employee? Or worse, poison, endanger and threaten them? Even injure or kill them?

On May 1, 2011, my son and his coworkers were hurriedly erecting a drill site in Smyrna, NY. The site was extremely hazardous. AWD vehicles were sinking into the mud and ruts were thigh and even waist deep. Supervisors requested, then demanded, more mats to cover the work area. But the company answered that they were too expensive, and pushed the workers to continue. As a result, Charles E. Bevins III, my sweet, sweet boy, was pinned and crushed between an industrial sized forklift and a building when the weight of the forklift on the unstable ground gave way.

The remote, hidden location which affords so many drilling sites less scrutiny, was not mutually beneficial to my son. The sprint to the Syracuse hospital took over an hour. I'm told the last thing his coworkers heard him say as they loaded him into the ambulance was, "Am I gonna die?" My only son, 23 years old, died repeatedly until the doctor could no longer revive him. My only son, died with no family or friends at his side, to hold him and comfort him. Every night when I go to bed my thoughts are haunted with what his last thoughts must have been...how scared he was...his pain.

When my son's body was brought back home, we buried him on our property after keeping him at home one last night. He went into our soil where he had grown up the last 14 years of his life. We buried him among the trees he had cut and planted, the fences he strung and repaired, while the sheep he trimmed and fed overlooked from the meadow. Our family dogs lay quietly among us as we said goodbye and filled his grave with earth. He was supposed to grow old in the house he helped build, not be buried in the woods a stone's throw from the back door. Life became observed, not lived.

The corporations he worked for sent flowers, and representatives to his viewing. I found a short paragraph on one of their web sites about sending their condolences and how committed they are to worker safety...this sandwiched between paragraphs about earnings and upcoming events. As far as the news, a local channel did a very short piece acknowledging his death and that there was an ongoing investigation. After many months, OSHA found the companies at fault, and slapped them on the wrist with a whopping $4,900.00 fine.

In the 17 months following the loss of my son, our eyes have been opened to the substantial amount of injuries and deaths caused by this dangerous industry. We read more and more articles about rig workers injured or killed by electrocutions, explosions, and traffic accidents. Our research also unveiled the unregulated inhumane hours they are forced to work and the unsafe environment they are subjected to. After speaking with his co-workers it became apparent that all the regulations in the world would never make drilling safe. This is an industry known for cutting corners, racing against public opinion, and ignoring scientific evidence. Their blatant disregard of these things will continue to leave environments, communities and especially its workers at risk.

How is it possible we live in a world where an industry can poison and pollute with little repercussions? Where their workers are expendable and a death can be brushed aside as just part of another days work? How many once complete families will be left incomplete?
 

 

MORE

Pam Judy's story

Frac sand dust storm dangers

 

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