Well Pads are Dangerous: Vents, Leaks, Fires, and Pollution

by Duane Nichols on December 3, 2017

“Groves Pad” well site in Marshall County fire with flames up to 6 feet tall

Well pad fire in Somerset County PA prompts evacuation of nearby residents

From an Article by Reid Frazier, NPR StateImpact PA, December 1, 2017

Some Somerset County residents were evacuated Thursday morning after firefighters responded to a fire on a natural gas well pad.

There were no injuries. Flames and odors of gas were first reported to authorities shortly before 9 a.m., according to a Somerset County 911 incident report.

The Tribune Review cited emergency dispatchers who said several residences were evacuated as a precaution.

Personnel from Xtreme Energy, which owns the well, arrived and put out the fire, according to the report.

Investigators from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection inspected the scene at the Menhorn #2 well, and determined the wellhead itself–where gas comes out of the ground–never caught fire.

“DEP concluded that the equipment associated with the well failed and caught fire, but the wellhead was not on fire,” said Lauren Fraley, a DEP spokeswoman, in an email. Gas flowing out of the well was turned off. The cause of the fire is unknown, Fraley said. The DEP has requested that Xtreme Energy send it an explanation for the cause of the fire.

Calls to the company’s offices were not returned.

The well pad was at 2596 East Mud Pike, in Brothersvalley Township, a few miles from the town of Berlin. The well was a Marcellus shale gas well, first drilled in 2009, Fraley said.


Fire at Marshall County EQT Well Under Investigation in West Virginia

From an Article by Casey Junkins, Wheeling Intelligencer, November 30, 2017

CAMERON, WV — EQT Corp. officials will work to determine the cause of a Wednesday blaze at the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling pad near the Williams Energy Fort Beeler plant, just north of Cameron.

Marshall County Emergency Management Director Tom Hart called the fire the first “significant” accident officials have seen with the drilling and fracking industry for some time. This is a change from the years of 2010-2013, during which Marshall County responders dealt with a well fire that burned for several days after a blast, along with leaks and a “dust cloud” that caused residents to evacuate, in addition to a fire at a large processing plant.

“It’s never going to be an incident-free industry, but the companies are working with us to improve the situation,” Hart said. “This wasn’t anything like what we’ve experienced before. Everyone was very fortunate.”

Reports indicate the fire began around 11 a.m. Wednesday at Pittsburgh-based EQT’s “Grove Pad.” Hart said contractors working for EQT soon responded to the scene to “shut in” the well, a procedure which stops the mixture of methane, propane, butane, ethane and other forms of natural gas from exiting the ground. He said once officials stopped the stream, the fire — with flames reaching heights up to 6 feet — ended. Firefighters from several local volunteer departments, including Cameron, Limestone and Fork Ridge, then entered the pad to spray water on the equipment that had been burning.

“We didn’t have to evacuate any residents,” Hart said. “Williams did evacuate the Fort Beeler plant as a precautionary measure.”

Lee Dawson, maintenance supervisor at the Williams plant, said the facility evacuated in an “abundance of caution.”

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection records list the Grove site under the ownership of Trans Energy. However, EQT acquired Trans Energy late last year.

“The only well on the pad has been in production since 2011,” EQT spokeswoman Linda Robertson said. “This is not considered a well fire, as the fire began in the gas production unit: a contained unit that sits quite a bit away from the well head.”

When the natural gas stream exits a well, drillers often perform certain processing or separation activities onsite. For instance, some companies remove the material known as condensate at the well site.

The nearby Fort Beeler plant is one of three large Williams natural gas processing facilities in Marshall County, with the Oak Grove plant and the Moundsville fractionator being the others.

“The pad has been secured and the well has been shut in — the gas inlet and outlet have been closed — as a precaution,” Robertson said. “The cause is under investigation, and the well will remain shut in, pending the investigation.”

West Virginia DEP spokesman Jake Glance provided a report his agency prepared on the situation. The report lists the material involved as “hazardous or toxic,” but states there is no evidence of a stream impact or a fish kill.

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SkyTruth Alert December 5, 2017 at 6:40 pm


Report Details
NRC Report ID: 1198538
Incident Time: 2017-12-01 12:15:00

Nearest City: Harrisville, WV
Location: RT 16

Incident Type: PIPELINE
Medium Affected: WATER

Suspected Responsible Party: DIMINION GATHERING AND

SkyTruth Analysis:
Lat/Long: 39.171111, -81.044167

Report Description


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