Mar 17, 2014
When oil giant Chevron’s shale gas well exploded near rural Bobtown in southwestern Pennsylvania, the fire burned for four days.
State regulators who previously argued that fracking well pads could safely be 300 feet from homes and schools – were “grateful” no one lived within half a mile of the dangerous explosion!
A young worker went missing that day: Ian McKee, age 27. It was a week later that state police announced bones believed to belong to Ian were found – located between a charred crane and a tank, the last place Ian had been seen. This marked the 6th worker death from a Pennsylvania gas well fire since July 2010.
The story only made national news when Chevron gave out 100 coupons for a free large pizza to nearby residents, to “apologize” for traffic after the fire.
A local resident contacted CNN to say, “It felt like a huge slap in the face.” Another wrote: “Nice community relations: If you are frightened by fire and explosion, relax, have a pizza!”
Chevron made 21 billion dollars in profits in 2013. It is mind boggling that free pizza was their public relations response.
Yet in a way, Chevron’s stunt worked in their favor. Once the pizza story hit the airwaves, the whole national discussion became about pizza. The dangers that fracking presents for workers and residents ended up hidden behind a pizza sideshow smokescreen.