POST Online Media Lite Edition



 

Charges filed in connection with Texas oilfield deaths

Christian Fernsby |
A federal grand jury in Midland, Texas, returned an indictment charging an oilfield company and an executive of the company with worker safety and environmental crimes.

Article continues below



Topics: TEXAS   

According to court documents, Aghorn Operating owns and operates oil wells and leases in Texas.

Aghorn and Trent Day, Vice President of Aghorn, were indicted for violating the Clean Air Act relating to releases of hydrogen sulfide from an Aghorn facility, as well as obstructing an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation.

Aghorn was also charged with three worker safety OSHA crimes for causing the death of an Aghorn employee. In addition, Aghorn and Day, along with another corporation, Kodiak Roustabout Inc., were charged with violating the Safe Drinking Water Act and making false statements regarding the mechanical integrity of Aghorn injection wells in forms and pressure charts filed with the State of Texas Railroad Commission.

The charges are the result of an investigation of the Oct. 26, 2019, death of Aghorn employee, Jacob Dean and his wife, Natalee Dean. Both were overcome by hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous gas, at an Aghorn facility in Odessa.

“The Justice Department will protect and defend the right to a safe workplace, and we will prosecute those who violate federal law aimed at keeping workers safe,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.

“Our nation's environmental laws are designed to protect our communities and workers from hazardous pollutants,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Todd “Tony” Adams of EPA's Southwest Area Criminal Investigation Program. “Today's indictments demonstrate that companies intentionally violating those laws and endangering others will be held responsible for their crimes.”

According to the allegations in the indictment, on the night of the incident, Jacob Dean responded to a call to check the pump house at the facility, an enclosed building with two bay doors. His wife, Natalee Dean, knew where Jacob had gone, and started calling him when he did not return in a timely manner. When those calls went unanswered, Natalee drove to the station with her two children, aged nine and six. A pump had failed in the pump house, causing a leak of produced water containing hydrogen sulfide. Jacob had been overcome by hydrogen sulfide in the pump house, and when Natalee arrived at the station, she exited the vehicle and proceeded to the pump house, where she too was overcome by the gas. Both Jacob and Natalee were found dead by the first responders to the scene.

The indictment stated that: “Aghorn was aware that its produced water contained high amounts of H2S as well as the deadly nature of the gas.” Aghorn and Trent Day allegedly “knowingly violated their general duty to prevent the accidental release” of hydrogen sulfide and also knowingly “placed another person in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.”

OSHA began an investigation two days later. The indictment alleges that Aghorn and Day obstructed the OSHA investigation, arising out of statements made by Day to OSHA in two separate interviews.

The mechanical integrity of an injection well must be evaluated by conducting pressure tests or alternative testing methods approved by the Railroad Commission. In evaluating the results of a pressure test, the Railroad Commission considers the level of pollution risk that loss of well integrity would cause. Aghorn operated numerous produced water injection wells, and submitted purported well pressure test results to the Railroad Commission. The indictment alleges that the defendants made false statements regarding the mechanical integrity of Aghorn injection wells in forms and pressure charts filed with the Railroad Commission.

If convicted, a federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The case was investigated by the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division. Senior Trial Attorney Christopher Costantini and Trial Attorney Mark Romley of the Environment and Natural Resources Divsion’s Environmental Crimes Section are prosecuting the case.


What to read next

Galenfeha acquires all assets and operations of Frontier Oilfield Services
Texas Central and Webuild to work on Texas train project that will create tens of thousands of jobs
Martin Marietta Materials to buy Texas Industries

U.S.: Pacific storm over west

 
An omega pattern aloft will support impactful weather across the Central U.S. this weekend.
 
 

Latest

U.S. drillers cut oil and gas rigs to 620
4.8 magnitude earthquake rattles New Jersey and New York
Rare species of wild bees discovered in Berlin
UK: Leicester City Council confirms ransomware attack after confidential documents leaked

NEWS

Finland extends border closure with Russia indefinitely

Russian nationals admit to illegally sending controlled aviation technology to Russia
Germany says Russia ‘very likely’ responsible for Baltic GPS disruptions
Singapore jails second defendant in laundering case
Taiwan earthquake deaths climb to 12
Czech police arrest 14 for drug smuggling
 

BUSINESS

Australia: East coast gas surplus expected in Q3 2024

Kuwait-Saudi rail link to be ready by 2028, says report
Cambodia approves investment projects worth $2.2 in Q1
Venice to charge day trip tourists 5 euros
Commission opens two in-depth investigations in solar photovoltaic sector
UK airports granted extensions to install cutting-edge security technology
 

Trending Now

Slovenia's economy expected to grow 0.9 pct in Q1

UK scientists win funding for 'cancer detecting' Lollipops

UK's competition watchdog to examine EDF buying GE's nuclear turbine unit

Study finds there's right way and wrong way to deliver negative feedback in workplace


POLITICS

UK Exports Minister visits Latin America to boost trade and unlock billions worth of exports

Argentina, Brazil in talks to reverse Bolivian gas pipeline amid shortage
Trudeau offers $6 billion to provinces to build housing
€1 billion Greek State aid measures to support renewable energy generation and storage projects
North Carolina reaches electric vehicle registration goals two years early
Colorado Energy Office launches tax incentive for geothermal electricity development and production
 

Today We Recommend

Thieves steal up to $30 million in one of largest cash heists in L.A. history


Highlights 

99 Cents Only Stores to close all 371 stores

Alaska Airlines says Boeing paid $160 mln for 737 Max 9 grounding

Saint-Gobain to acquire Bailey for $650 million


COMPANIES

99 Cents Only Stores to close all 371 stores

Alaska Airlines says Boeing paid $160 mln for 737 Max 9 grounding
Lindsay announces agreement to acquire minority interest in Pessl Instruments
Saint-Gobain to acquire Bailey for $650 million
Farmers Mutual Hail to acquire Global Ag from AXA XL
Oar Resources signs deal to acquire Namibian prospecting licences
 

CAREERS

TerraPay names Marco Boldini as EVP and global head of governmental affairs

Farmers Insurance appoints John Griek as CFO
PA Media Group appoints Emily Shelley as new CEO
BioNTech appoints Annemarie Hanekamp as chief commercial officer
Ecobank Group strengthens leadership team
Veramed appoints Karen Curran as chief strategy officer
 

ECONOMY

Slovenia's economy expected to grow 0.9 pct in Q1

Italy faces deficit infringement procedure
Real GDP increased in all 50 U.S. states
Inflation continues to decline in Germany
UK house prices log unexpected fall
South Korea's FDI logs double digit growth in Q1
 

EARNINGS

Dollarama Q4 sales increased 11.3%

Conagra Brands Q3 sales decreased 1.7%
Liebherr finished 2023 business year with record revenue of €14,042 million
BlackBerry Q4 revenue $173 million
Levi Strauss Q1 revenues 8% lower
PVH Q4 revenue of $2.490 billion flat
 

OP-ED

Micromanaging is the worst enemy of efficiency and teamwork

Niger set to monetize massive gas reserves through Saharan natural gas pipeline
Putting the brakes on EV folly that choked the market
Oil discovery in Kavango Basin may mean huge benefits for Namibians
Cape Town and Dubai battle over Africa's energy future
Is America going to lose its superpower status?
 

AGRIFISH

FAO Food Price Index rises in March

Australia grants license for GM bananas amid Fusarium Wilt TR4 concerns
Indian government allows exports of 10,000 tons of onions to UAE
Analytical survey: Sales of agricultural lands in Ukraine up 50% in February
Decline in Norwegian seafood exports in Q1
Tanzania's first fishing harbor to be completed in 2025
 

LEADERSHIP

Study finds workers misjudge wage markets

Some organizations may need to expand their hierarchical structures earlier than others
Study finds there's right way and wrong way to deliver negative feedback in workplace
Allyship is critical and its needs appreciation
Generating 'buzz' about new products can influence their success
Hiring 'problem directors' can knock up to 64% off firm's value
 

CRIME

HSBC pays penalties for alleged breaches of Consumer Data Right rules

Sanofi to settle thousands of Zantac cancer lawsuits
Former asset manager and board member of Geneva private bank referred to Swiss Federal Criminal Court
South Africa: SAP ordered to pay SIU $26m over 'invalid' Eskom contracts
Former Steinhoff director appears in court for $1.1b fraud, racketeering
Genesis agrees to pay $21 million penalty to settle SEC charges
 

Magazine

TRAVEL

Buna channels, an unreal and beautiful part of Bosnia and Herzegovina

JW Marriott unveils Mindful Haven with opening of JW Marriott Hotel Nairobi
Sotheby's Sports Week returns with fantastic artifacts
Red Roof properties open in Michigan
Treyam, your premier lagoon destination in Saudi Arabia
San Francisco: SkyStar wheel on Fisherman’s Wharf to stay for another 18 months
 

SEA, LAND, AIR

2025 Chevrolet Equinox stands apart with fresh looks and capability

Hill Helicopters HX50, luxury in the sky
Opel Movano becomes fully equipped camper van
Porsche Panamera, new hybrid variants
Dodge Charger, 670 horsepower of electric
Pagani Huayra R Evo, 900 hp from 770 Nm
 

DESIGN

Cold night, hot fire pit, cool entertainment

Embellish your home with PVC panels
You'll have to hurry if you want one of 20 new Louis Vuitton watches
Luxury duvet looks good, fells good and keeps you healthy
Vacheron Constantin, watches for life and more
Schüller kitchens, where functionality marries design
 

GADGETS

reMarkable 2, monochrome tablet for your thoughts and your eyes

OnePlus Ace 3V, first with Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 3
ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra, flagship with a reason
Samsung Galaxy S24 is photography powerhouse
Casette tapes are making a big comeback, and so are portable players
Neumann TLM 103, standard microphone for both voice and music
 

HEALTH

India launches first home-grown gene therapy for cancer

UK scientists win funding for 'cancer detecting' Lollipops
State to cover rare disease treatment costs in Bulgaria
Type 1 diabetes patients in England to receive 'artificial pancreas' as medication
Pilot study shows ketogenic diet improves severe mental illness
Texas reports possibly U.S. first human case of bird flu linked to cattle
 

MEANTIME

SLAC completes construction of largest digital camera ever built for astronomy

Solar eclipse next week in U.S., Mexico and Canada
Gravitational waves may have made human life possible
Astronomers unveil strong magnetic fields spiraling at the edge of Milky Way's central black hole
Scientists on hunt for evidence of quantum gravity's existence at South Pole
Hydrogen train from Switzerland sets world record