Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 7, 2014

Chevron pizza 'scandal' isn't one in small town

(Continued)

About 12,000 people have signed an online petition demanding Chevron apologize, according to petition organizer Karen Feridun.

"There are a few from nearby communities, but none right from Bobtown," Feridun wrote in emails this week to the AP. She lives about 250 miles away, at the other end of Pennsylvania. The petition isn't even on public display in Bobtown, about 2 miles from the West Virginia border.

One petition signer from New York City mentioned "Chevron's cavalier arrogance." Other signers came from Alaska, Florida and many other states, as well as Australia, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Germany and Italy.

Chevron hasn't responded to the petition, Feridun said.

Company spokesman Kent Robertson said in an email that Chevron works to be a good partner in communities, that it has been "overwhelmed by the support" from residents and that it appreciates their understanding.

For more than a century, the region around Bobtown has been coal country, and there's still an active mine nearby. But in the past five years, natural gas locked in shale deep underground became newly accessible because of the advent of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Statistics suggest major fires are relatively rare. Houston-based Wild Well Control, which specializes in control of oil and gas well accidents, says it responded to five surface well blowouts last year accompanied by fires and 25 other surface blowouts with no fires.

On Feb. 11, a Chevron well outside of Bobtown exploded, killing Ian McKee, 27, who lived about a half-hour away in Morgantown, W.Va., and worked for a contractor. The fire burned for a week, and emergency responders, state regulators and crews with special equipment clogged or blocked narrow roads in the area.

State regulators and police and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the Pennsylvania fire. Chevron could face fines if it broke any rules.

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