This Week In Natural Gas Leaks and Explosions – April 8, 2013

Apr 9th, 2013 | By Mark | Category: Lead Articles, Natural Gas Explosions

NatGas Consulting

Natural gas leaks and explosions caused considerable damage throughout the country this week.

It’s been a busy week, as always, in natural gas leaks and explosions, with incidents and accidents wreaking havoc across the country, so let’s get right to it: Two workers were killed on Friday, April 5, when a natural gas well exploded near Barstow, Texas, according to recent media reports. Both workers were employed by Basic Energy Services Inc. The well is owned by Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

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“It appears that the pressure from the well caused the explosion at the wellhead,” Alan Krenek, chief financial officer at Fort Worth, Texas-based Basic Energy, told Bloomberg.com. The job involved a workover rig, which is used to go back into a well to boost production.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the cause of the blast. Since June 2008, Basic Energy Services has been cited by OSHA for unsafe working conditions 41 times – not including any citations that may be issued in connection with this week’s fatalities.

A natural gas compressor station owned and operated by DCP Midstream LLC exploded in rural Oklahoma on late Thursday. Local authorities evacuated area residents within a one-mile radius of the blast and there were no injuries and the cause of the blast remains under investigation, according to recent media reports.

You can see video footage of the explosion’s aftermath, which burned for more than 24 hours, here:

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection decided against imposing fines in connection with an explosion that occurred last year at a compressor station in Springvale Township, Pennsylvania, because the explosion did not cause the company to exceed its annual pollution limits, according to recent media reports.

The Lathrop Compressor Station, owned and operated by Williams Partners, exploded on March 29, 2012. The station pressurizes natural gas drawn from hydraulic fracturing wells and sends it upstream to markets along the eastern seaboard. Photo by Frank Finan, from protectingourwaters.org

Williams Field Services, a subsidiary of the Williams Company, also restarted the damaged facility before receiving approval from regulators to do so, but the PA DEP ruled that because they had never issued a formal shut-down order, the company had not violated any regulations with its actions.

A natural gas explosion injured a worker reportedly relocating natural gas lines in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, March 28, according to a recent media report. The Cedar Rapids Gazette identified the victim as 41-year-old Howard Russell, who was working for Q3 Contracting on the gas-line project.

No one can figure out the source of a leak that continues to contaminate the Parachute Creek, near Parachute, Colorado. The Parachute Creek flows into the Colorado River, which is the major source of water for American in the southwestern United States.

The Williams Company – there’s that name again – owns and operates a hydrocarbon processing plant in the area and investigation has focused on two pipelines: a 30-inch line that carries raw natural gas into the plant and a four-inch line that carries natural gas liquids, such as benzene, to another part of the plant for storage.

From a recent story in the Denver Post:

The leak has created a plume of toxic compounds that initially was thought to measure 200 feet by 70 feet by 14 feet deep. It was discovered about 30 feet from Parachute Creek by workers excavating in the area. Testing of the groundwater between the plume and the creek has revealed extremely high levels of benzene, one of several compounds typically found in subterranean natural-gas and oil deposits. The groundwater tests have revealed concentrations thousands of times greater than state and national safety standards for human exposure.

And remember, as always, this round-up of natural gas leaks and explosions is by no means comprehensive, merely representative of the constant stream of incidents that occurs with astonishing regularity throughout the country. For example, leaks caused by contractors or excavators striking natural gas lines are not included; were leaks of that nature to be included, the length of this feature would test the patience of even the most committed readers.

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2 Comments to “This Week In Natural Gas Leaks and Explosions – April 8, 2013”

  1. [...] fire at their Lathrop Compressor Station in Springvale Township, Susquehanna County, PA last March. Natural Gas Watch reports that Williams got off scot-free even though they re-started operations immediately after the [...]

  2. Thanks for your on the spot reporting and keep it up. By the way the photo you published, taken by Frank Finan of Susquehanna County, is from protectingourwaters.com not protectingourwaters.org. Although we are a non, non nonprofit, the .org domain was already taken so we had to take the .com domain for our blog in order to keep the name Protecting Our Waters. Just wanted to minimize any confusion. In any case, please keep a spotlight on Williams, which had yet another explosion at their compressor station in New Jersey last night. From Colorado and Pennsylvania to New York and New Jersey, Williams cuts quite a swath of destruction.

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