Fracking by Karve Energy Inc. at Consort Alberta killed Charles Oba, Calgary father of two; Family demands answers. Police not releasing name of the victim. Will Karve Energy blame Charles?

Condolences from Jessica to Charles Oba’s loved ones

“Jessica’s Farm”

Water colour of Jessica’s fracked home (and the old Rosebud River meandering through her land) by Erin Shilliday, 2006

Family of Calgary man killed in fracking accident demands answers bv Bryan Passifiume with files from Reid Southwick, August 4, 2017 | Last Updated: August 4, 2017 3:32 PM MDT, Calgary Herald

Family members are demanding answers after a 36-year-old father of two died at a central Alberta drilling site.

Charles Oba was killed early Thursday morning at a work site near Consort when he was struck in the head by a section of pipe while conducting a pressure test on a hydraulic fracturing rig, said a release from Alberta Occupational Health and Safety.

Speaking to Postmedia Friday, Oba’s elder brother Scott wants to know how such an accident could have happened.

“We’re kind of surprised, we’re not talking about a third-world country,” he said. “How can they have a drilling accident in Canada?” [Ah, but when it comes to the oil and gas industry, Canada is a third-world country.]

Oba said he and his brother have seen their share of industrial accidents in their home country of Nigeria due to poor safety standards.

“We’ve seen drilling accidents where there are no safety checks — we want answers,” said Scott Oba.

“Where was he supposed to be? Where was he? Was there safety checks that were missed? What happened? We need specifics.” [Be prepared not to get them]

The site, about 200 km northeast of Calgary, is operated by Calgary’s Karve Energy Inc.

Oba was employed by Element Technical Services, a Calgary-based company specializing in hydraulic fracturing and pressure pumping services.

Oba said his brother had been employed by Element for about a year, and had lived in Calgary for the past five years after moving to the city from Nova Scotia.

He leaves behind a wife and two sons.

“Those two boys are devastated,” Oba’s brother said.

While Oba was informed of his brother’s death on Thursday by his employer, he said the tragedy won’t seem real until the family sees his brother’s body, which is currently being held for an autopsy by the medical examiner.

“In a way, you kind of want to see and verify that this is your brother,” he said. “Our mother is grieving, but we all want to see and confirm, so we know it’s him.”

In the end, Oba hopes some good can come from the tragedy.

“It’s not just for us, it’s for the next person,” he said.

“Whatever specific job he was doing, they’re going to put somebody else in there. They’ve got to specifically figure out what went wrong — we want to know what that is — and they’ve got to fix it.” [But, tragically, in the oil and gas industry, profits are much more important, and politicians and regulators enable this. Be prepared for nothing to improve. Be prepared for the “brute force and ignorant” frac experiment to become more and more dangerous as companies tighten spending and order safety to be overlooked]

Calls to Oba’s employer weren’t returned. The accident is being investigated by provincial occupational health and safety inspectors.

There were five confirmed workplace fatalities in Alberta in the first half of 2017, a number that may be conservative due to the length of time it takes to thoroughly investigate workplace deaths. There were 12 reported deaths in the same period last year. [Emphasis added]

Comments

Rick Hoff
Tremendously sorry to hear this. There are inherent risks in oil field equipment and operations, and the consequences of an accident can be catastrophic. Hopefully this was a crew that practised safety to the highest standard; speaking from experience it’s difficult to get everybody on board with safe procedures, and especially important for individuals to treat every situation as a potential hazard. Mr. Oba’s family deserves any answer they need and I am sure they will get them.

13 hrs

Daryl Lloyd Kenny · General partner at Life Unbounded
I know this is a sensitive thing but please try to understand what you’re talking about. Fracking and drilling are two very different things and the way this article is written only makes the story more confusing.

Also, there is no fracking rig. Hydraulic fracturing is the injection of water and sand into the earth under extremely high pressures (up to 15,000 psi or 100 mPa). The risk of treating iron failure is ubiquitous.
Aug 4, 2017 10:15pm

Bill Adams · Edmonton, Alberta
there i however all kinds of trucks with pumping equipment on them and piping to inject the sand and water
Aug 5, 2017 9:30am

Diana Daunheimer
Condolences to the Oba family. Thank you for taking your concerns public and hoping that this time, the industry is decent enough to provide you the answers you seek and deserve.

This is a sensitive issue and facts are important. Drilling and fracking are two distinct processes, both of which are necessary for the production of unconventional resources in the province. Nearly every new well in the province will have to be fractured to produce. Fracking is not just injecting water and sand. Some completions, use no water at all and are fractured with hydrocarbons (kerosene, diesel fuel or other petroleum derivatives), with gelled propane, or even nitrogen. Slick water or gel water fracs, do contain water, proppants-sand which is acutally carcinogenic crystalline silica or ceramic beads and a myriad of chemical additives such as energizers, biocides, friction reducers, surfactants, corrosion inhibitors and breakers.
22 hrs

Diana Daunheimer
Treating iron failure is not ambiguous, it is necessary for repsonsible operations, and mandatory on drillling and servicing rigs. Rigs have 250, 500, 750 and 1000 (level 4) inspections, which include x-rays on derricks, iron roughnecks and component welds. Good rig managers and hands will be, minute by minute watching lines, fittings and all iron for cracks, leaks or stress fractures and repairing as needed. Preventing iron failure and pressure anonmolies, is essential to keep workers safe and alive. Again, most heartfelt sympathy to this family.
21 hrs

Calgary man killed at east central Alberta drilling site by Bryan Passifiume, August 3, 2017, Calgary Herald

Occupational health and safety officials are investigating after the death of a worker at a drill site on Thursday.

The victim, described by RCMP as a 35-year-old Calgary man, was killed a little after 7 a.m. at a work site northwest of Consort, Alta.

Mounties say the death occurred during a pressure test at the drilling site.

Provincial occupational health inspectors have taken over the investigation, and police are not releasing the identity of the victim.

Consort is about 200 km northeast of Calgary. [Emphasis added]

‘What happened?’ Family of Calgary man demands answers after drilling site death by Bryan Passifume, August 4, 2017, Calgary Sun

The family of a Calgary man are demanding answers after the 36-year-old father of two died at an east central Alberta drilling site.

Thirty-six-year-old Charles Oba was killed early Thursday morning at a work site near Consort, about 200 kilometres northeast of Calgary.

Alberta Occupational Health and Safety says Oba had been conducting a pressure test at a hydraulic fracturing rig a little after 6:30 a.m. when he was struck in the head by a section of pipe.

He died at the scene.

Speaking to Postmedia Friday, Oba’s elder brother Scott wants to know how such an accident could have happened.

“We’re kind of surprised, we’re not talking about a third-world country,” he said.

“How can they have a drilling accident in Canada?”

Oba said he and his brother have seen their share of industrial accidents in their home country of Nigeria — a nation that lacks stringent occupational safety standards.

“We’ve seen drilling accidents where there are no safety checks — we want answers.”

The site was operated by Calgary’s Karve Energy Inc. — a firm focused on oil and gas projects in east central Alberta.

Oba was employed by Element Technical Services, a Calgary-based company specializing in hydraulic fracturing and pressure pumping services.

Inquiries for comment to Oba’s employer weren’t returned by press time, and the cause of the accident is still under investigation by provincial Occupational Health and Safety inspectors.

Oba said his brother had been employed by Element for about a year, and had lived in Calgary for the past five years after moving to the city from Nova Scotia.

He leaves behind a wife and two sons.

“Those two boys are devastated,” Oba’s brother said.

According to current numbers, there were five confirmed workplace fatalities in Alberta in the first half of 2017 — a statistic that may be conservative due to the length of time it takes to thoroughly investigate workplace deaths.

That number’s down from the 12 reported deaths from the same period last year.

As the family comes to grips with their tragic loss, they’re struggling to understand how such an accident could have happened.

“Where was he supposed to be? Where was he? Was there safety checks that were missed? What happened? We need specifics,” he said.

While Oba was informed of his brother’s death on Thursday by his employer, he said the tragedy won’t become real until the family’s had an opportunity to see his brother’s body — currently on hold until an autopsy has been performed by the medical examiner.

“In a way, you kind of want to see and verify that this is your brother,” he said.

“Our mother is grieving, but we all want to see and confirm, so we know it’s him.”

In the end, Oba hopes some good can come from the tragedy of his brother’s death.

“It’s not just for us, it’s for the next person,” he said.

“Whatever specific job he was doing, they’re going to put somebody else in there.

They’ve got to specifically figure out what went wrong — we want to know what that is — and they’ve got to fix it.” [Emphasis added]

***

Are oil and gas industry work sites becoming more dangerous?

Jack Shawn Eyles, 28, from Kelowna, dies fracking in NE BC for Calfrac (Nitrogen Pumping Division) on Progress Energy Canada Ltd. Site: “Not an explosion as we usually think, but an explosive or sudden release of extremely high pressure”

2017 04 16: Corporate and AER Greed Knows No Bounds, Especially in Alberta: Despite economic slowdown, Alberta work fatalities jump by 15 per cent last year

2014 02 11: Alberta workplace fatalities close to record numbers in 2013, led by a near doubling of fatalities caused by occupational disease

2016 10 25: Shell Canada, Fox Creek Alberta: 47 year old worker killed by water hose in AER’s Blanket Approval, “Brute Force & Ignorant” Frac Frenzy Pilot Project

2013 09 27: Alberta drastically under-reports workplace injuries

2013 02 10: Workplace Deaths Drop – But not in the Oil Industry

2014 02 01: Fracking Injuries, deaths and dangers for workers and communities

And that’s why: 2016 10 01: Drilling through danger Chapters 2 & 3: Oil & gas industry’s practice of farming out work can have deadly consequences, client legal immunity prevents many injured from suing, even when fault is clearly the client’s

2015 12 01: “Abnormally dangerous and ultra hazardous activity.” Did TRC or Chevron’s fracing kill Robert David Taylor? What happened to California regulators’ vows to make steam injections safer? “Safer?” Why not make it “safe?”

2015 03 02: N.D. Supreme Court approves benefits in vapor death; Industry Group Issues Warning For Fracking Vapors: ‘One Breath Could be Death’

2016 04 26: Is Anadarko leaking explosive methane into homes in Colorado? Company to shut down 3,000 oil wells after fatal home explosion April 17, 2017 in Firestone, Weld County that killed two, injured two.

2017 08 01: “Justice” Alberta Style: Suncor ignored safety problems before operator plunged to death in tailings pond, Fined a measly $300,000 for causing death of Jerry Cooper, who worked 13 years for the company

2014 07 07: Business Insurance: Oil boom and fracking cause spike in energy industry workplace deaths. Do you have copies of Commercial Liability Insurance Coverage for companies operating near your home and loved ones?

2017 06 01: New study on diesel pollution: “There is strong evidence that particulate matter (PM) emitted mainly from diesel road vehicles is associated with increased risk of heart attack, heart failure, and death.” Ever wonder why so many get sick when the oil & gas industry invades your home & community? Air pollution cost Canadians $36 Billion in 2015 alone!

2016 01 15: Is “Best in Class, Shut the Frack Up” AER a regulator or abusive enabler of deadly harm? Bad air: Oilpatch toxic air still fuming in Alberta despite regulator huff ‘n puffing

2015 06 30: Cumulative Impacts Frack Attack? Double Homicide in “No Duty of Care” AER and Gerard Protti’s Fox Creek Blanket Approval Pilot Project

2013 10 24: Air Pollution and Cancer Spikes linked in Alberta; Alberta’s Oil Legacy: Bad Air and Rare Cancers, Sickening carcinogens now saturate Industrial Heartland, study finds

2014 12 04: A lot too late: Federal officials warn about dangers of airborne petrochemicals blowing out of oil well tank hatches

2015 04 15: Edmonton’s bad air: “Levels of contaminants higher than in some of the world’s most polluted cities have been found downwind of Canada’s largest oil, gas and tar sands processing zone…where men suffer elevated rates of cancers linked to such chemicals”

2015 12 05: Oil Patch Boom ‘n Bust Harm? Alberta’s suicide rate, always slightly higher than national average, Spikes up 30 per cent in first half of 2015, compared to last year

2015 06 15: HORRIFYING Bakken Oil Boom “Serial Killer” MUST READ: In North Dakota’s Bakken oil boom, there will be blood

2014 08 29: U.S.Centers for Disease Control Preliminary Study: Finds dangerous levels of benzene in frac workers’ urine; Imagine the urine of children living beside frac’ing

2014 02 03: 3 oilfield workers die hitting school bus; School officials plan to meet with fracking companies “to figure out how to keep kids safe from the traffic dangers caused by the oil boom”

2016 09 25: “My son was murdered” Drilling through Danger Chapter One: Regulatory vacuum compounds inherent risks; In 12-year span, an oil and gas worker died once every three months on average in Colorado, 51 workers died between 2003-14, victims of a system focused more on protecting industry than its employees

2014 04 04: SPECIAL REPORT: Sour gas from oil wells a deadly problem in southeast Saskatchewan, Human and animal deaths linked to hydrogen sulphide emissions

2015 01 14: Sounds like Alberta (Again)! Utah energy boomtown turns on midwife who raised concerns over apparent spike in infant deaths: “Could the deaths be tied to the oil industry, the region’s economic powerhouse?”

2016 04 12: “I’m actually outraged.” With Alberta Court’s blessings, Energy giant CNRL derails full public inquiry into foreign workers’ deaths

2015 06 02: Toxic oil and gas industry vapors suspected in deaths of three Colorado oil and gas workers; Why blame nature or the victims?

2014 02 01: Fracking Injuries, deaths and dangers for workers and communities

2016 06 13: NEXEN BLAMES WORKERS for major explosion that killed two at tarsands SAGD steam injection site near Fort McMurray

2017 04 25: Nexen (Eaten by CNOOC Ltd.; Feast enabled by Steve Harper) asks Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo for $19.5M tax break due to Long Lake blast. Brilliant comment by Shane Shaugnessy: “Our company killed a couple employees and damaged some important equipment. Due to these events we would like the opportunity to do less to support the communties we harm and pollute while still draining as much wealth and intellectual property back to China.”

2015 08 09: If industry’s abandoned bitumen sites kill wildlife, what’s it doing to groundwater and humans?

2017 01 04: Happy Alberta-Oil-Patch-Get-Away-with-Murder New Year? After 10 years to investigate and release report, CNRL fined $10,000 – maximum allowed – following regulation violations that killed 2 workers, injured 5 others, 13 in total trapped by devastating tank collapse. All 29 charges against CNRL dropped. Alberta’s “No Duty of Care” energy “regulation” wins & kills, again.

***

Why not name murder victims? New Alberta policy is absurd by Christie Blatchford, August 3, 2017, Calgary Herald

There’s no crime quite like murder.

Though obviously personal, in that an individual has been killed, it also has a uniquely public aspect: One of our own has been taken, and there exists a genuine collective loss. Who was the victim? What might he have become? What might she have done with her life had she been allowed to keep it?

Murder’s public nature has been recognized for almost as long as there has been law; that principle is embedded, for instance, in the motto of the Ontario coroner’s office, which holds in part that its investigations, and sometimes inquests, ensure that no death of a member of the community “will be overlooked, concealed or ignored.”

But in Alberta this week, they took a significant step to changing all that.

Since mid-January this year, the Edmonton Police Service has been withholding the names of some homicide victims — about a third of the 29 murders in the city so far this year, in fact. The practice is already so ingrained there’s a pro forma little paragraph at the bottom of the news releases where the force has determined the victim won’t be identified: “The EPS has decided not to release the name of the deceased in this investigation for the following reasons: It does not serve an investigative purpose, there is no risk to public safety and the EPS has a duty to protect the privacy rights of the victims and their families.”

The driving force behind the change in Edmonton is unclear — it just abruptly changed in mid-January — but certainly, when the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police met this week to adopt the “decision framework on naming homicide victims,” the mandate was clear — and clear, too, was the fact the tedious document wasn’t written by cops.

“In response to a request from the Minister of Justice,” the preamble says, “the AACP has adopted this framework to be used by all AACP member police services …”

The AACP president, Medicine Hat Police Chief Andy McGrogan, said Thursday in a phone interview that the minister was simply asking that the various forces be consistent.

And the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP) referred to throughout the document makes it plain this is the Alberta version.

(There’s a federal FOIP too, and the provinces have their own, and generally speaking, their titles could have been taken directly from Orwell’s 1984, where the Ministry of Truth was in fact the propaganda ministry. In other words, these pieces of legislation in my experience exist to do the very opposite of what their titles suggest — to thwart, hide and to render un-free.)

In any case, Alberta’s police have now cheerfully agreed to a complicated seven-part consideration process that will have them (and lawyers and privacy officers) weigh whether it’s in the “public good” to release the name (that being such factors as the transparency of the force, increased public confidence, allowing community members to pay their respects, etc., etc.), whether the family of the victim wants the name released, and whether and how much other information is already in the public domain, etc., etc.

Waging a lonely battle against the new policy — simply by reporting upon it — has been veteran CBC courts and crime reporter Janice Johnston, who has pointed out some of the absurdities: That, for instance, the Alberta RCMP, which years earlier had stopped naming murder victims, was now naming them again just as Edmonton was refusing; that when a teenager named Brandon Provencher was murdered at an LRT station, the force refused to name him even as he was quickly identified through social media posts and a fundraising page; and when an 11-day baby died of a methamphetamine overdose and her mother was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, the mother was identified but not the baby.

The name of the baby was learned, and published, when just days later court documents identified her as Eliana.

(EPS spokesman Scott Pattison told Postmedia Thursday in an email that he believes there were “several reasons” for the change, including privacy legislation.)

But that raises another issue: What happens when these cases come to trial, the accused killers in court? Will another arm of the state, prosecutors, feel empowered or obliged to seek publication bans on the names of those who have been killed?

FOI and privacy legislation has been in existence for decades, though it feels much longer — federally since 1990, in Alberta since 2000. Nothing huge appears to have changed in the intervening years.

These are maddening acts to read, and I’ve read them, but can find nothing that specifically refers to homicide investigations or the disclosure of victims’ names.

Rather, the Alberta chiefs appear to have adopted legal interpretations of what are very broad laws that should be used to protect citizens’ privacy in the ordinary course.

Murder is the antithesis of all that, exceptional, a crime against the public order, the public good, the body public: It isn’t prurient to want to know who’s been killed. It’s smart, and in a democracy that took openness seriously, it would be routine.

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