GLEN DALE – West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection officials today are working to determine how much Marcellus Shale condensate leaked into Little Grave Creek due to a Williams Energy natural gas pipeline rupture at about 8 p.m. Thursday.
Meanwhile, another Williams conduit broke in the vicinity of Bane Lane along U.S. 250 at about 10:50 p.m. Thursday, marking two natural gas pipeline breaks in the same county within just a few hours of one another.
“It was a heck of a night,” Marshall County Emergency Management Agency Director Tom Hart said, adding Thursday evening was already challenging because of heavy rainfall contributing to some minor flooding and even a mudslide along W.Va. 2.
West Virginia DEP spokeswoman Kelley J. Gillenwater said this morning her agency continues investigating the condensate spill into Little Grave Creek, noting Williams officials confirmed they discovered a pressure drop in the line. This prompted Williams workers to notify the DEP, she said.
“The last I heard, there were plans to install a boom to contain the material, but high, swift water conditions were making that effort difficult,” Gillenwater said of the condensate in the creek this morning.
Gillenwater did not immediately know how much of the material may have leaked into the stream before officials isolated the rupture, but local residents reported a “petroleum smell” coming from the creek.
Hart and Gillenwater said this morning both pipelines were owned by Tulsa, Okla.-based natural gas processor Williams Energy. Company spokeswoman Helen Humphreys confirmed this morning that Williams operates the pipelines, but could not provide more information by press time.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, condensates are light liquid hydrocarbons recovered at natural gas well sites that producers market for profit. The material is often considered comparable to crude oil.
Despite the local concerns, Hart said there were no evacuations in the Glen Dale area. The same could not be said for residents living in the Bane Lane area of the county just north of Cameron, however. At about 10:50 p.m., a 12-inch natural gas pipeline broke, leading residents of five homes to flee as a precautionary measure. Hart said residents in three homes evacuated on their own, while firefighters led those in the other two to safety. All residents were able to go home after about 45 minutes.
Officials closed U.S. 250 between the intersections of Fork Ridge Road and W.Va. 891 while workers turned off the gas stream running through the pipeline. The highway reopened at about 11:45 p.m., while volunteer firefighters from Cameron and Limestone then cleared the scene.
Williams transports natural gas and liquids for Chevron, Southwestern Energy, Gastar Exploration, Trans Energy, and several other producers in northern West Virginia.
Williams operates a massive pipeline and processing infrastructure network in Marshall County, as the firm runs the Oak Grove processing plant, the Fort Beeler processing plant and the Moundsville fractionator, all of which are connected by pipelines.
On April 5, 2014, a 12-inch Williams pipeline ruptured near the Oak Grove plant. After the investigation, Gillenwater said this “explosion created a 10-foot crater, and the resulting fire scorched trees over an approximately two-acre area.”