The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 17, 2013

W.Va. landslide causes pipeline rupture, gas spill

LITTLETON — A landslide has caused a pipeline to rupture and spill a liquid gas near a Wetzel County stream.

Kathy Cosco , spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, told The Intelligencer ( ) that officials have not been able to take samples at the Rocky Run area where the spill occurred Tuesday because gas levels remained too high.

She said Friday that the MarkWest Energy pipeline carried an unspecified “wet gas.” She said many natural gas liquids, which are byproducts of natural gas drilling, vaporize when they come into contact with water. Evidence of a fish kill was found, but Cosco says no residents live close enough to the site to be in danger.

“The company put out some absorbent material in the nearby stream, trying to absorb anything that might be on the surface,” Cosco said.

MarkWest spokesman Robert McHale said the 10-inch, 27-mile pipeline connecting two company facilities will remain shut down until repairs are made. He said no one was injured, and the company is working with local, state and federal officials.

Cosco said DEP representatives have been “able to get within eyesight” of the spill without being in danger. However, she said all such substances are volatile and always have the potential to ignite. She said MarkWest workers have been maintaining the site and managing the spill in an effort to prevent any ignition or explosion.

Residents of the area expressed concern about potential hazards associated with the pipeline break. Ed Wade, who lives about a mile from the spill, said he visited the area and encountered “really, really strong fumes.” He said he saw one “roll-out ribbon” nearby that states “Danger,” but he did not believe this was an adequate warning.

Cosco said once the danger has passed and DEP workers can access the area, they will sample the stream and soil.


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