(AP) — An accident at a hydraulic fracturing site in northern Colorado killed one worker and seriously injured two others Thursday, authorities said. The three men were trying to heat a frozen high-pressure water line at the oil or gas well site when it ruptured, Weld County sheriff's Sgt. Sean Standridge said. One man was hit by a stream of water and died from the impact.
The injured men — Thomas Sedlmayr, 48, and Grant Casey, 28 — were flown to hospitals. The name of the man who was killed was not released. The accident happened near Mead, about 35 miles north of Denver, on the fourth straight day of frigid weather in the region. "The pipe was frozen and they were trying to heat it up to get it flowing again," Standridge said.
The temperature in the area was about zero degrees at the time of the accident, National Weather Service meteorologist Bob Kleyla said. Overnight, the temperature had dropped to minus 5, which is severe but not as cold as in other locations in Colorado such as Denver International Airport, where the low was minus 14.
The men were working for Halliburton Co., which Anadarko Petroleum Corp. contracted to perform fracking operations at the well. Fracking involves injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel, and chemicals into the ground to extract oil and gas from rock. After the accident, Anadarko shut down all the fracking pads in the area as a safety precaution. "This is a very difficult time for all of us at Halliburton, and we are working with local authorities as they look into the details of this incident," Halliburton spokeswoman Chevalier Mayes said in a statement.
Three inspectors from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration were at the site investigating the cause of the accident and whether it could have been prevented, Area Director Herb Gibson said. He said there had been no prior fatalities at the Anadarko site. "It's definitely a dangerous industry," Gibson said.