PVR CHAPIN PLANT “HARD TO EVACUATE AN HOUR AFTER THE FACT”

PVR CHAPIN 6-20-2013Around 4:45pm, on Thursday June 21, 2013, PVR’s Chapin Glycol Dehydration plant had a is being described as a “MINOR ACCIDENTAL DISCHARGE”.

This is the 3rd such “MINOR ACCIDENTAL DISCHARGE” since the PVR Chapin plant went operational in late spring of 2012.

PVR Chapin plant is on Route 309 in Monroe Township, Wyoming County PA and butts up to the border of Dallas Township of Luzerne County.  The location of the plant effects both Monroe and Dallas residents.

The cause of the “MINOR ACCIDENTAL DISCHARGE” is attributed to a stuck valve.   A faulty component and a stuck valve were attributed to the previous “MINOR ACCIDENTAL DISCHARGES” in September and November of 2012.   DEP cited PVR for failing to notify the agency within 24 hours for the September “incident”, no word if PVR was cited for anything regarding the November “incident”.

REFUSING TO COMMUNICATE

According to the FaceBook page for the Back Mountain Fire/EMS newspage, the PVR representative initially refused to communicate with emergency responders.

pvr refuse communicateA short time later, the PVR representative reported the substance released is “OK”.pvr refuse communicate 2

PVR originally stated that a combination of water and gas was released, later they “corrected” themselves and said it was “just water”.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH FOX 56 NEWS REPORT

Chief Jack Dodson of the Kunkle Fire Department stated “we call the 911 center and they call PVR and then they come and they (PVR) don’t tell us anything”.  Emergency responders still didn’t know what was being released more than an hour after arriving at the scene making it harder to determine if evacuation procedures would be necessary.

“We’re trying to get the PVR guy to cooperate,” Dodson said after the technician drove in to the station without stopping to talk with emergency crews.

“Every five minutes there’d be a big blow off, about 30 feet in the air,” Dodson said.

PVR has stated they followed all government agency notifications.

The “stuck valve” was located in a Sludge Tank causing pressure to build up and resulted in the discharge.   It is unknown what is actually in the sludge tank, but it probably isn’t “just water”.

DIDN’T CONTAIN ANY CHEMICALS THAT DEP WAS AWARE OF

DEP Spokesperson, Colleen Connolly said an undetermined amount of production water was spilled, there was no need to evacuate residents, and nothing that caused any problems or impact to the air.  She further stated “the water didn’t contain any chemicals that DEP was aware of.”

Wyoming County Emergency Management Coordinator Eugene Dziak said “Methane is lighter than air, so it’s going to rise. So as the water and gas dispersed, the water was separating to the ground, and the gas was rising to the air. There was no one at risk.”

Just what was in the “water” coming out of the SLUDGE tank?   Production water contains fracking chemicals and additional compounds Radon, Strontium, Benzene, Lead, Arsenic, Sodium Chloride, N-Hexane among others.   So this isn’t “just water”.

Air samples were taken around 5:45pm and showed no signs of EXPLOSIVE gas in the air.  It’s unknown if they checked for other chemicals in the air.

As far as DEP being aware….given their lack of enforcement of what regulations still exist, and reluctance to enforce these – draw your own conclusions as to the awareness level of DEP.  Connolly said DEP emergency response team is investigating.

THE GREEN MONSTER

Two weeks ago, Attorney Todd O’Malley filed a lawsuit against PVR on behalf of 20 green monsterfamilies living next door and near the PVR Chapin Plant.   Residents refer to the plant as “the Green Monster”, and are seeking more than $75,000 per household damages for nuisance, trespass and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

O’Malley said during the incidents residents’ homes actually shook, rattling screens and pictures on the walls. He called it an “egregious violation” of peoples’ ability to quietly enjoy their properties.

The Plaintiffs have lived with constant noise, vibrations, and shaking that rattles their homes and structures, and disturbs pets and livestock. The noise contributes to lack of sleep, loss of concentration and other physical, psychological and emotional distress. Additionally, the families live with constant smoke, fumes and noxious chemical discharges that emanate from the Chapin Station and breach their property lines.

The Complaint alleges damages and suffering stemming from the operation of the dehydration glycol station known as Chapin Station: deleterious health effects, loss of property value, loss of the use and enjoyment of homes and property, mental anguish and emotional distress. To date, a number of family members have experienced spontaneous nosebleeds, headaches and respiratory problems.

RELATED: PVR CHAPIN PLANT aka THE GREEN MONSTER

PVR NO SHOW

Six months ago, following the November “incident”, a meeting was held with State Representative Karen Boback (R-117) State Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), and representatives from state and county emergency management agencies, environmental and utility regulators, area fire and police departments, county commissioners and township officials to discuss the “incidents” and what to do about it in the future.

PVR declined to attend.

At the meeting, a reverse 911 system was discussed as one way to notify residents of an “incident”. To date, no such system is in place.

Residents, and first responders also have not been provided with any emergency response or evacuation plans, leaving everyone standing around with their hands in their pockets and no clue what to do.  The gas industry doesn’t like to call such plans “emergency response” or similar, and prefers to use the term “tactical response”, somehow that makes it sound less dangerous.

RELATED: PVR – WHERE’S THE TACTICAL RESPONSE PLAN FOR PEOPLE?

Originally the PVR Chapin plant was owned by Chief Gathering LLC, a subsidiary of Chief Oil & Gas.   PVR purchased Chief Gathering LLC from Chief Oil & GAS in May of 2012.  (Chief Oil & Gas is a subsidiary of Devon Energy).

Apparently there is a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure plan established by Chief Gathering when the plant was built.

At the December 2012 meeting, Chief Dodson has some serious questions. Why PVR Partners did not rewrite the Chapin plan after they took over Chief Gathering’s Marcellus assets earlier this year.  Secondly, he wants to know why the established protocol that seems very clear – including contact of Wyoming County EMA – as established by Chief was not followed.

Other facilities operated by PVR are also experiencing problems.

The Barto Compressor station in Penn Township, Lycoming County is creating pollution concentrations nearly three times the amount allowed under the federal health-based air quality standards.

The  Hirkey Compressor Station in Washington Township, Wyoming County, PA had an emergency shutdown on Wednesday (12/19/12) around 8:30pm.  The compressor station had only been online for 2 months at the time of that incident.

How many more “incidents” will happen before our elected officials actually do their job?

© 2013 by Dory Hippauf

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