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What happened to Brandon Belk? Could better safety measures have saved him?

Environment & Energy Publishing released a story today outlining the suspicious death of a Bandlands Power Fuels worker named Brandon Belk in Watford City, North Dakota. Belk’s parents stated in the interview that they believe his death was caused by inhaling solvents and other petroleum products while cleaning a frack tank. The autopsy says that he died from pneumonia or fluid in his lungs, which remains consistent with their theory.  There were unfortunately also traces of methadone and citalopram in his system. The autopsy, his former employer and OSHA all have declared his death a result of the methadone (there was not a lethal dose found), and as a result  they have denied death benefits to his 13-year-old daughter.

While this mystery still has yet to be solved, one thing is for sure– safety is an important and too often overlooked factor in many worksites in the Bakken. The company he had been working for claims that he’d been using TCI 105 H.D. to clean the fracking tank, which requires users to be wearing a respirator. There were also an excess of petroleum and drilling waste reside in the tank. Belk should’ve been wearing an oxygen mask while working in the tank. Following the task Belk and other workers complained of sore throats, a lack of breath and numb faces and tongues. Belk later passed out and vomited.

However, the forensic examiner William Massello III states that sick individuals injesting a ‘lethal amount’ of drugs like methane can make his death ‘consistent’ to a drug overdose. To read more about Brandon Belk’s incredible life, compelling story and the mystery that surrounds his death, visit the E&E website.

15 comments

  1. How sad. This young man died because of a safety issue. This is a new area growing so rapidly that not all the workers are being protected like they should be. The company this young man worked for should be ashamed of themselves for not paying out the life insurance. Always wear a respirator when working in confined areas with chemicals.

  2. H2s monetor. . Training safety.

  3. They need more training and more supervision on particular jobs like this… Confined space training could help too, in this situation.

  4. Susie this place is not new to this by no means this place abuses everything in site up here from the employees to the land they have no respect for anything but money

  5. Major service companies require h2s training and no facial hair. As well as monitors. They also require safety confined spaces training per osha. He shouldn’t have been on the job with methadone either way. Granted some companies do not care however I know the top do. They all have to be recertified every year to two years and even I in the office had to have it. He should have had a respirator on and a buddy overlooking him.

  6. Not trying to dog the guy that passed away but I am willing to bet he had all the proper training and just didn’t use it. Myself and millions of other oilfield workers are guilty of not abiding by the rule of safety. We have just been lucky that something like this didn’t happen to us. RIP Brandon!

  7. I’m with you. Short cuts are taken by the best. Denying the guys daughters benefits is bs though. RIP

  8. If the company he worked for has a drug policy their insurance company won’t pay out if there is a trace of drugs or alcohol. Break the rules, others may pay the price unfortunately.

  9. We all know what really happened to Brandon Belk, especially all the guys in Rentals

    • I feel sorry for the Belk family. Brandon was a great guy! No one can say anything cut Nuverra will fire them. There’s a lot of things I saw that they did, that weren’t environmentally safe for the environment.

  10. Sounds like a COVER UP. Hospital should also be sued. Meds were prescribed to him, and now they are trying to make the VICTIM sound guilty. SHAME SHAME. This young man died due to the chemicals and no respirator. Corruption at it’s finest.

  11. Vikki Daggett ( Brandons mom )

    I would like to set.the record straight, Brandon wasnt wearing a.respiratory. Anyone that worked there will tell you that no one wore them, the company ddnt supply them. Workers asked for them, they were told we dont have them. Nice employers huh.. Safety and secudity were not hgh on thei priority list for sure. My son died from their neglect, and it s a huge cover up that needs to be blown wide open.. I pray that this will happen and hold someone accountable for my sons death.

  12. Wow! I am/ was a very good friend of Brandon’s and I can attest that the drug accusations being made by this company have NOTHING to do with his death!!! From what I understand, there were not proper “oxygen masks”, or whatever was needed, provided for workers to clean the tanks in a proper or professional way. And considering Brandon was one of many who complained of breathing problems, etc. after, I’m pretty sure the company was more to blame than they want to admit. For general public to read this story it nay seem cut and dry, but fit those of us who truely knew Brandon, there is a lot more to this story!!! R.I.P. my friend xoxo

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