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New Mexico Fracking Explosion Highlights Dangers of Fossil Fuel Industry

A hydraulic fracking site in San Juan County, New Mexico, erupted into flames this week, causing 36 oil tanks to catch fire and the evacuation of 55 local residents.

Free Confidential Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been the victim of water or air contamination caused by fracking, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and our lawyers can help.

What’s the Problem?

July 15, 2016 – The fire broke out around 10:15 PM at a fracking site owned by WPX Energy, setting off several explosions and forcing the closure of highway 550. The site — known as the “550 Corridor” and located in the Mancos shale deposit — contains 6 new oil wells and 30 storage tanks that hold either oil or produced water. All 36 tanks caught fire and burned, according to EcoWatch.

“The fire is being allowed to burn itself out due to the intensity of the heat, the number of oil tanks involved and to contain petroleum fluids on WPX’s five-acre site, predominantly in the storage tankage,” WPX said.

The company stopped drilling for natural gas and oil in the 550 Corridor last May, and had been producing for about a week before the fire occurred.

The cause of the incident is still being investigated. “We think that in the next couple of weeks to months, we will have that information and will be able to share that with the public,” said Heather Riley, WPX San Juan Asset Team manager.

There were no reported injuries or damage to area property, and most of the evacuees have returned home, but 10 families were still lodged in a hotel as of Wednesday.

Environmentalists are speaking out against the fracking explosion.

“The site that exploded is a brand new facility that consists of six wells drilled to shale formations that have never been adequately analyzed for impacts and safety concerns,” said Mike Eisenfeld, the Energy and Climate Program manager at the San Juan Citizens Alliance.

WPX was given approval to develop the 550 Corridor from the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division (OCD) in September, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Farmington Field Office gave final approval to drill the site in December.

“This highlights the failure to have adequate safeguards in place to protect local communities and also raises serious questions about chemicals and toxicity associated with the explosion,” Eisenfeld said. “Emergency response for this explosion was hours away. A thorough investigation is necessary. There should be a moratorium on these new wells until BLM completes a legally proficient Resource Management Plan Amendment/Environmental Impact Statement for the Mancos Shale/Gallup formations.”

Do I Need a Fracking Lawyer?

The Workplace and Environmental Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in fracking lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new air and water contamination cases in all 50 states.

Free Confidential Case Evaluation: Again, if your air or drinking water has been contaminated due to methane migration or other consequences of hydraulic fracking, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and our lawyers can help.

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