Last night, on her show, Rachel Maddow showed some incredible photos of an explosive accident at a Texas fracking site. After seeing the photos, you'll be surprised to learn that thankfully no one was killed.
You can see the photos at DrillingAhead.com, which is a blog and community site for oil field workers. The person that sent in the photos added this explanation as to what he or she thinks went wrong:
"My guess here is the casing parted at the connection from cold water shrinking the unsupported pipe (un-cemented) and putting it in severe tension, making the casing fail at the collar connection. Keep in mind it parted on the 7” and immediately failed the surface casing connection with the upward force. Quick and easy math of the pressure over the surface area upon parting is 327,250 lbs upward force!"
Interestingly, commenters on that site, who are presumably familiar with fracking or oil workers themselves, remarked that it was odd the pipe was not cemented and that cold water was being used. As Maddow concludes, the event is a “spectacular and highly visible failure in the world’s most profitable industry.”
It also sounds like the result of both human error and the failure to follow safety regulations that could have prevented this accident.