In Kentucky, unattended oil and gas production sites are attractive nuisances to many folks. Companies should take proper precautions to ensure that oil and gas production sites are secured properly, with fencing, gates and warning signs to prevent access by children, teenagers and young adults who are attracted to the sites as secluded places at which to hang out and socialize.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has issued a video, entitled “No Place to Hang Out,” aimed at educating young people on the hazards of socializing at oil sites. The video tells the story of the tragic deaths of 18-year-old Wade White and 16-year-old Devon Byrd, killed on October 31, 2009, when an oil tank suddenly exploded while the two were hanging out at the site.
These accidents might have been prevented through education, and by securing the sites and putting up adequate warning signs.
According to the Restatement of Torts standard, which is followed in many jurisdictions, there are five conditions that must be met for a land owner to be liable for tort damages to a child trespasser. The five conditions are:
- The place where the condition exists is one on which the possessor knows or has reason to know that children are likely to trespass, and
- The condition is one of which the possessor knows or has reason to know and which he realizes or should realize will involve an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily harm to such children,
- The children, because of their youth, do not discover the condition or realize the risk involved in inter-meddling with it or in coming within the area made dangerous by it
- The utility to the possessor of maintaining the condition and the burden of eliminating the danger are slight as compared with the risk to children involved, and
- The possessor fails to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the danger or otherwise to protect the children
(See Restatement of Torts §339)