Trucker sues fracking company after being doused in flowback water

By Land Line staff | Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A truck driver from West Virginia is suing Range Resources, a Texas-based natural gas company for injuries he said he incurred after being splashed with flowback water from a hydraulic fracturing operation.

The plaintiff, Russell Evans of Triadelphia, claims he suffered chemical burns, blisters and rashes on May 21, 2013, while working as a driver for Equipment Transport LLC. Evans’ suit, filed in Allegheny County Court in Pennsylvania last week, alleges that employees of Range Resources ordered him to continue working in wet clothes for hours after initially being splashed with the fracking water at Buffalo Township well site, according to The Observer-Reporter.

The newspaper states that Evans was transporting “reused” water to the well site, when he backed his truck up to a “sloppy pond” used to store reused frack water and noticed that water was leaking from the back hatch of his tanker truck. The report states that he claimed to be doused with water when he attempted to stop the leak and was told by a Range employee the water would not harm him. He reportedly claimed to be ordered to stay on site in the wet clothes for about two hours on the job site, and another two hours during his return trip to West Virginia.

The report states that Range employees roped off and swept the area where the spill occurred but allegedly made no attempt to examine Evans or arrange for him to take a “chemical bath.”

Evans’ complaint further alleges that he went to a walk-in clinic after developing a rash and blisters and claimed that physicians told him he could not be treated without knowledge of the chemicals he may have been exposed to and that Range “kept the chemical makeup of the fracking fluid a secret,” according to the report. In addition to skin ailments, he claims he suffered nausea, shortness of breath, indigestion, vertigo and headaches, as well as potentially permanent skin discoloration and permanent sensitivity to sunlight.

He claimed he also was refused medical care at an emergency room in Wheeling a week after the alleged incident because of his inability to name the constituents of the water.

The newspaper quotes a Range spokesman who says the components of all industry materials, including reuse water, are disclosed by law.

Evans and his wife Karen are seeking punitive damages above the arbitration limit, which is $35,000 in Allegheny County.

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