Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Glow in the Night Sky: Liberty, PA

Liberty, PA (WBNG Binghamton) An orange glow illuminates the sky in the Northern Tier as what appears to be a contained fire erupts from a Pennsylvania gas well.

After many phones calls and e-mails from viewers wondering why the mountains appear to sparkle from Interstate 81, Action News ventured down to see the blaze and find out what neighbors have to say.

A resident near the well pad said,
"Our fire company has been dispatched to it but there is obviously nothing they can do about it," stated Crook, "I just wonder how long they're going to have it burning for and if there are any pollutants in the air from it. I don't know."

Flaring is the practice of burning gas that is deemed uneconomical to collect and sell. Flaring is also used to burn gases that would otherwise present a safety problem. It is common to flare natural gas that contains hydrogen sulfide (i.e., sour gas), in order to convert the highly toxic hydrogen sulfide gas into less toxic compounds.

Flares emit a host of air pollutants, depending on the chemical composition of the gas being burned and the efficiency and temperature of the flare. Flaring results in hydrogen sulfide emissions if hydrogen sulfide is present in large enough amounts in the natural gas. There may also be additional by-products formed if some of the chemicals used during the drilling or hydraulic fracturing process are converted to a gaseous form and are burned along with the natural gas.

The Ventura County Air Pollution Control District, in California has estimated that the following air pollutants may be released from natural gas flares: benzene, formaldehyde, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, including naphthalene), acetaldehyde, acrolein, propylene, toluene, xylenes, ethyl benzene and hexane. Researchers in Canada have measured more than 60 air pollutants downwind of natural gas flares.

No comments: