Friday, April 2, 2010

Fumes Ignite at Gas Well: More On the Fire in Washington County, PA

The Observer-Reporter, a Washington County, PA, newspaper, has published a report (4/1/2010), giving further details about the serious fire which occurred on March 31st at a well site in Hopewell Township, Washington County, PA.  The land owner, George Zimmerman, does not own the mineral rights beneath his property.  Consequently, he has had absolutely no say in what has happened on his property since a gas well was placed there.

Mr. Zimmerman looked out his bedroom window Wednesday morning and saw flames shooting 100 feet in the air from the fire.  A state police fire marshal said the blaze was an accident caused by a malfunction which ignited fumes and caused $375,000 in damages.  The DEP said both the tank and pit used to store fluid used for hydrofracking caught fire.  A storage trailer also burned.  Firefighters did not immediately take action to extinguish the fire because they had to assess what was actually on fire.  The fire in the tank was the last thing to be put out.  The pit fire burned itself out. The fire chief from West Middletown said the fire might have been caused by vandals.  [This is speculation.] Fire crews from four towns responded. 

Mr. Zimmerman has had problems before. In early December a spill went into a pond feeding a stream.  The spill was from a pit filled with fresh water mixed with recycled water. Also three water wells Zimmerman had dried up.  Atlas has recently been fined $85,000 by the DEP for violations at 13 of its well sites.

Read the whole article.
Here is another article from Amy Mall of NRDC. She tells of previous problems the land owner had with Altas Energy.

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