Washington County Gas Well Explosion, March 1: #fire #hazmat #pahazmat

MOUNT PLEASANT TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Washington County emergency crews were called to a Marcellus Shale drilling site in Hickory, after multiple calls about a possible explosion.  Channel 4 Action News’ Janelle Hall reported that crews were called to a site in Mount Pleasant Township off Caldwell Road after 911 dispatchers started getting calls about an explosion on Tuesday morning.  “We heard a big ‘Boom!’ It shook our house,” Rebecca Skirpan told Hall.  Range Resources denied that there was any sort of explosion. Spokesman Matt Pitzarella said that one of the company’s employees was inspecting wells in the area when he saw smoke coming from a compressor station and called 911.  Hall reported that Range Resources said that an inspector spotted a small fire and put it out with a handheld fire extinguisher.  Pitzarella said that as part of the company’s emergency preparedness plan crews are required to call 911 if they see anything unusual.  People who live in the area told Hall they’re concerned about safety. The site sits just six miles away from another Marcellus Shale site in Avella where three workers were injured during an explosion last week.  Stephanie Hallowich lives 600 yards away from the facility involved in Tuesday’s incident.  “There’s not only the compressor stations, but another company has a gas plant and a third company has four different gas well pads. There’s also a national fuel line, so the potential for something catastrophic is definitely there,” Hallowich said.  Hallowich said her family wants to move and, out of frustration at what they perceive as the health risk from drilling operations, carved the words “Gas Land” into their yard.  “We had actually been away the last couple of days because the children have been having some health issues, which we believe is from some of the emissions coming out of these two places, with some pretty serious nose bleeds and headaches,” Hallowich said.  Drilling sites like these provide profit for landowners who lease the land.  “If they do it safely, then I’m all for it.” Martin O’Lear told Hall. “But when you see stuff like this……” O’Lear trailed off.  “This may be one small area in my backyard. But there’s going to be others in other people’s backyards with the volume of wells they plan on drilling in the state. So more people are going to be impacted,” Hallowich said.

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