Monday, September 25, 2023

PUC Investigating Delaware County Natural Gas Pipeline Leak, House Explosion And Evacuation Of 100+ People

On September 25, the
Public Utility Commission announced pipeline and electric safety engineers from the Safety Division of the PUC are continuing their investigation into a weekend incident in Yeadon, Delaware County involving reports of a natural gas pipeline leak, a house explosion and fire that damaged several homes and resulted in the evacuation of more than 100 nearby residents.

On September 23, 2023, I&E safety engineers responded to the scene of a reported gas leak and house explosion at 14 W. Providence Rd. in Yeadon, Delaware County – which damaged a duplex house and resulted in the evacuation of homes and apartments around the incident site.

Safety division engineers have been on-site since Saturday, gathering information about the incident; observing work by PECO crews to locate and repair gas leaks in the area; and monitoring the safe restoration of electric and natural gas utility service to the neighborhood around the incident.

Initial reports indicate that an electrical line was brought down by a tree, as high winds and heavy rain from coastal storm Ophelia swept across southeastern Pennsylvania – and that may have caused a gas leak that resulted in the explosion and fire – but safety engineers continue to gather information about the incident.

The Safety Division investigation in Delaware County is active and ongoing – involving both pipeline safety and electric safety teams from the Safety Division – who are gathering and analyzing evidence and data to explore whether public utility infrastructure or operations contributed to the cause and circumstances surrounding an incident, along with whether there are any violations of state or federal pipeline and/or electric safety regulations.

It is important to note that I&E investigations are limited – by regulation – to the involvement of, or impact from, utilities and utility systems under the jurisdiction of the PUC. 

I&E does not have jurisdiction to investigate items or events beyond a service meter – and the interior, non-jurisdictional, assets involved in incidents are the subject of investigation by other parties and agencies outside the PUC.

The Safety Division recognizes the strong public interest in these types of incidents, especially for those who have been directly impacted, and works to address safety concerns in a timely manner. 

Still, it is important to understand that these are complex circumstances which may require extensive analyses by engineers and other experts, along with laboratory testing and other technical study before conclusions can be reached.

Any determinations and/or actions are based on that information, within the scope of the PUC’s jurisdiction, and any safety concerns identified by investigators are addressed promptly with regulated pipeline operators and/or utilities. 

NewsClips - Natural Gas Explosions:

-- 6ABC News: 100 Residents In Delaware County Evacuated After Natural Gas From A Ruptured Gas Line Leaked, Caused 2 Houses To Explode

-- DelcoTimes: About 200 Yeardon Residents Housed At School In Wake Of Natural Gas Leak

-- PennLive: Lancaster County House Explosion Leaves 1 Man Dead: Police

-- MCall: Natural Gas Leak In Lehigh Valley Prompts Brief Shelter-In-Place Order Wednesday

-- PUC Responds To NTSB Actions Regarding Reading Factory Natural Gas Explosion

-- Post-Gazette - Ford Turner: NTSB Kicks PUC Out Of Investigation Into Deadly Natural Gas Explosion At A Chocolate Factory In Reading

-- Reading Eagle: West Reading Chocolate Factory Explosion: Feds Demand PUC Hand Over UGI Inspection Reports

-- AP: NTSB Investigators Subpoena PUC Records Related To Reading Factory Natural Gas Explosion

Related Article:

-- PUC To Seek Public Comment On Proposed $100,000 Penalty Settlement With Mifflin Energy Corp. For Natural Gas Explosion Destroying Home/Business In Greene County  [PaEN] 

[Posted: September 25, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

DOE Awards DCNR $1 Million Grant To Provide Technical Assistance For Large Scale Carbon Storage And Regional Carbon Management Hubs

On September 25, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced the department was awarded $1 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management to provide locally-tailored technical assistance and enhanced stakeholder engagement around carbon management technologies.

Gov. Josh Shapiro said his Administration believes that we must reject the false choice between growing our economy and protecting the planet – we can do both. 

Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) is one of the tools the Commonwealth is exploring to offset carbon use and mitigate the effects of climate change.

“This funding is critical in furthering efforts to manage carbon capture efforts in Pennsylvania and the Appalachian region,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “DCNR is proud to have one of the 16 projects selected to help advance work in the carbon capture space. Work to reduce the effects of climate change is key in preserving our natural resources for future generations.”

The Pennsylvania Geological Survey within DCNR is partnering with the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey and Battelle Memorial Institute to accelerate the deployment of carbon management in Pennsylvania and West Virginia by reducing barriers to entry to carbon storage project opportunities. 

The project will develop a conceptual geologic model of the Rome trough area in the Central Appalachian basin, focusing on a first, second and third mile-plus understanding of the subsurface, which will help inform future carbon capture efforts.

Other expected outcomes include:

-- Building on current collaborative relationships and the regional knowledge base resulting from two decades of regional characterization efforts with DOE and 

-- Framing and focus efforts to address data needs not currently being tackled through other proposed efforts for the greater Appalachian region; 

-- Aggregating the most pertinent geologic and geospatial datasets to construct a free, public-facing Web-Based Tool with comprehensive datasets and information needed to inform Underground Injection Well permitting efforts. No such tool is currently available for Pennsylvania or West Virginia.

Funding for the project will also support three interns from underserved communities within the study region, as well as public outreach and stakeholder engagement on carbon capture resources in the Commonwealth.

“Our goal is to ensure the communities within the region have the necessary information and data to better understand how carbon capture utilization and storage projects provide benefits, both environmentally and through creating new workforce opportunities,” State Geologist Gale Blackmer said. “We remain committed to being positive stewards of our natural resources and implementing a portfolio of technical approaches to address carbon emissions from power, industry, and other sectors of the economy.”

The announcement said DCNR is dedicated to supporting responsible development of carbon capture resources in the Commonwealth. 

Seeking Core Sample Storage Facility

The agency also announced it is seeking a new $6 million cores storage facility for the state’s collection of subsurface core samples and drill cuttings, which are critical tools for understanding how Pennsylvania’s geology would be able to support carbon capture and sequestration efforts.  Read more here [11.15.22].

The mission of the DCNR Bureau of Geological Survey is to research the state’s geologic resources and topography; map the surface and underground rocks and geologic structures across the state; and make their findings available through publications and outreach.

DCNR has been engaged on the topic of carbon capture utilization and storage for nearly 20 years. During this time, work by the Geological Survey to further understanding of the state’s geologic resources has included:

-- Assessments of numerous underground geologic resources that have potential to serve as reservoirs where carbon dioxide could be safely stored;

-- Case study evaluations of existing oil fields where CO2-enhanced recovery efforts may be employed; and

-- Participation in multi-state coalitions to guide seamless consideration of geologic storage options across state lines and throughout the Appalachian and Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

Visit DCNR’s Carbon Capture Utilization And Storage webpage for more information.


-- Observer-Reporter Guest Essay: Carbon Capture And Storage Next Big Opportunity For PA - By Diana Irey Vaughan, Washington County Commissioner

Related Articles:

-- DCNR Conservation & Natural Resources Advisory Council Hosts 2-Part Online Discussion Of Storing Carbon Below Ground-- Sept. 21; And Above Ground-- Oct. 17  [PaEN]

-- DCNR Discusses Carbon Capture, Utilization, Storage Efforts, Announces $6 Million Investment In New Carbon Capture Research Facility  [PaEN]

[Posted: September 25, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

On Sept. 27 Families Will Hold Town Hall Meeting In Washington County Seeking Policy Changes After Pitt Studies Link Natural Gas Development And Negative Health Outcomes

On September 27, families in Southwest PA will gather at a Washington County Town Hall meeting to seek answers and policy changes one month after
studies by the University of Pittsburgh linked natural gas development and increases in asthma and negative childhood health outcomes.

The Town Hall is sponsored by Moms & Dads - Family Awareness of Cancer Threat Spike and hosted by the Center for Coalfield Justice and the Physicians for Social Responsibility - PA.

The groups are pushing for protective measures to be put in place, and plans to appeal to leaders in Harrisburg to take action to protect residents.

Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania will present about the potential health impacts of the natural gas industry in our communities, and research that suggests natural gas pipelines emit a significant amount of radioactivity. 

PSR PA’s air quality monitoring project, images from the FLIR optimal gas imaging camera, and have PFAS ‘forever chemical’ water test kits available. 

The Town Hall will be held at the Quail Acres Pavilion, North Strabane Township Park, 1929 PA-519, Canonsburg from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The Town Hall will also be available online.  Click Here to register.

For more information on this issue, visit the Center for Coalfield Justice and the Physicians for Social Responsibility - PA website.

Bill To Increase Setback Safety Zones

On September 18, Senators Steven Santasiero (D-Bucks) and Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester), Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, announced they were introducing legislation to increase setback safety zones from shale natural gas drilling sites based on the latest science.

The legislation would increase the distance from buildings and water wells from 500 to 2,500 feet and to 5,000 feet from reservoirs, schools and hospitals.   Read more here.

Health Dept. Invites Citizens To File Health Complaints

On September 1, The Center Square reported the state Department of Health is inviting citizens to file environmental health complaints related to natural gas development.

The invitation was being made “In the wake of a recent state-commissioned report from the University of Pittsburgh that investigated a possible link between cancer, asthma and natural gas development, the Department of Health said the online complaint form will guide residents through the process and make it easier for the state to respond.”  Read more here.

NewsClips - Health Studies:

-- Warren Times: Natural Gas Well Setbacks Questioned After Health Impact Studies

-- Capital & Main - Audrey Carleton: PA Residents Call For Action After Pitt Study Links Natural Gas Development To Asthma, Childhood Lymphoma

-- PA Capital-Star: PA Residents Call For Action After Health Studies Link Natural Gas Development To Asthma, Lymphoma

-- The Center Square: Natural Gas Well Setbacks May Not Be Protective Enough After Health Impact Study Results 

-- Post-Gazette: Processing Research On Southwestern PA Natural Gas Development And Health, Residents Seek Answers Together: ‘We Deserve Better’

-- TribLive: Environmental Advocates Weight In On State Dept. Of Health, Pitt Study Of Natural Gas Development Health Impacts

-- Inquirer - Will Bunch: Does Anyone Care About The Study Linking PA Natural Gas Development To Cancer In Kids? 

-- Post-Gazette Editorial: Who Pays For Natural Gas Development’s Harm?  Pennsylvania Should Acknowledge The Clear Fact That Fracking Has Hurt People, Specifically Children  [PaEN]

-- Republican Herald Editorial: Health Depends On Regulation Of Oil & Gas Development  [PaEN]

-- TribLive Editorial: Studies Of Natural Gas Development Point To Health Costs

-- Bedford Gazette Editorial: Natural Gas Development is Making Pennsylvanians Sick, Lawmakers Must Act 

-- Tribune-Democrat Guest Editorial: Natural Gas Development Making Pennsylvanians Sick, Lawmakers Must Act

-- Inquirer Editorial: Natural Gas Development Is Making Pennsylvanians Sick, Lawmakers Must Act 

-- TribLive Guest Essay: Leaders Aren’t Helpless And Must Take Action To Protect Constituents From Natural Gas Development Health Impacts - By Tom Pike, Penn Twp., Westmoreland County

-- The Daily Item Guest Essay: Is Natural Gas Development Good For Pennsylvania? $3.8 Billion In PA Taxpayer Subsidies; University Of Pittsburgh Health Studies; Methane Leaks; Jobs Decline - By Sandy Field, Climate Reality Project - Susquehanna Valley Chapter

-- University Of Pittsburgh News: Pitt Studies Link Unconventional Natural Gas Development To Childhood Cancer, Asthma Attacks 

-- Public Source: ‘It’s Just Too Close:’ People Living Near Natural Gas Drilling, Industrial Facilities Suffer As State And Local Governments Fail To Buffer Homes

-- Observer-Reporter: State, County Elected Leaders Take Proactive Steps To Ban Oil, Gas Wastewater Injection Wells

-- What It’s Like To Raise A Family In The Most Fracked County In PA - Washington County: PA Physicians For Social Responsibility [Video]

-- Uncontrolled Natural Gas Emissions From Equitrans Steelhead Compressor Station, Washington County: PA Physicians For Social Responsibility [Video]

Related Articles - Health Studies:

-- University Of Pittsburgh School Of Public Health Studies Find Shale Gas Wells Can Make Asthma Worse; Children Have An Increased Chance Of Developing Lymphoma Cancer; Slightly Lower Birth Weights  [PaEN]

-- State Dept. Of Health Apologizes For Not Listening To Communities Suffering Health Impacts From Shale Gas Development; New Health Study Results ‘Just The Tip Of The Iceberg’  [PaEN]

-- State Dept. Of Health Invites Citizens To File Environmental Health Complaints Related To Natural Gas Development; Health Will Also Review Environmental Test Results  [PaEN] 

-- Between The Lines Podcast: Pediatrician Dr. Ned Ketyer Explains The Results Of New Studies Of The Health Impacts Of Natural Gas Development On Children And Adults  [PaEN]

-- Environmental Health Project Finds Results ‘Very Concerning’ From University Of Pittsburgh Studies Showing Links Between Natural Gas Development And Lymphoma Cancer, Worsening Asthma Conditions, Lower Birth Weights  [PaEN]

-- Republican Rep. Krupa Introduces HB 1656 To Ban Oil, Gas Wastewater Injection Wells To Protect The Public From Radioactive, Toxic Materials  [PaEN]

-- Oil & Gas Industry Spills, Releases Created Over 575 New Brownfield Sites So Far In Pennsylvania, With More Every Week  [PaEN]

-- DEP: Widespread Presence Of PFAS ‘Forever Chemicals’ In Fresh Water May Have Led To ‘Inadvertently’ Using Contaminated Water For Fracking Gas Wells In Washington County  [PaEN]

-- Marcellus Drilling News/The Allegheny Front: University Of Pittsburgh Study Finds At Least 800,000 Tons Of Oil & Gas Waste Sent To Landfills Unaccounted For In One Year; Oil & Gas Waste Adds To Radiation Accumulation In Stream Sediments  [PaEN]

-- Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - June 24 to 30 - Radiation Levels Prompt Shale Gas Wastewater Tank Decontamination; Replugging Conventional, Shale Gas Wells  [PaEN] 

-- Penn State Study: Potential Pollution Caused By Road Dumping Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater Makes It Unsuitable For A Dust Suppressant, Washes Right Off The Road Into The Ditch  [PaEN]

-- New Penn State Study: Brine Water Pumped From Played-Out Conventional Oil & Gas Wells And Used As Dust Suppressants, Winter Road Treatments Exceed Environmental, Health Standards, Just Like Conventional Oil & Gas Brine Water  [PaEN]

-- Petro Erie, Inc. Says It Lacks The Financial Ability To Comply With DEP’s Order To Clean Up Conventional Oil Well Wastewater That Contaminated The Village Of Reno’s Water Supply In Venango County; Will Taxpayers Be Stuck With Cleanup Costs Again?  [PaEN]

PA Oil & Gas Industry Public Notice Dashboards:

-- Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - Sept. 16 to 22 -  2nd Abandoned Shale Gas Well Pad?  5 More Abandoned Conventional Wells; Failure To Comply With Order  [PaEN] 

-- DEP Issues NOVs To Roulette Oil & Gas LLC For Abandoning Another Conventional Well In Potter County; Roulette Applying For Oil & Gas Wastewater Injection Well Permit  [PaEN]

-- Petro Erie, Inc. Appeals 2nd DEP Order Requiring The Operator To Restore The Village Of Reno’s Water Supply Contaminated By A Spill Of Conventional Oil Well Wastewater In Venango County  [PaEN]  

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices/Opportunities To Comment - September 23 [PaEN]  

-- DEP Posted 73 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In September 23 PA Bulletin  [PaEN]  

Related Articles Last Week:

-- Senators Santarsiero, Comitta To Introduce Bill Increasing Setback Safety Zones From Shale Natural Gas Drilling Sites From 500 To 2,500 Feet, Based On Latest Science  [PaEN]

-- Susquehanna River Basin Commission Approves 8 Shale Gas Drilling Water Withdrawals - 1 In Exceptional Value Loyalsock Creek, Home To The Hellbender  [PaEN] 

-- Susquehanna River Basin Commission Approves 34 Shale Gas Well Pad Water Use General Permits In  Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga Counties  [PaEN] 

-- Game Commission Board OKs More Shale Gas Drilling In Lycoming County, Home To The Hellbender, And Sullivan County  [PaEN]

-- EPA Approves Permit For Oil, Gas Wastewater Injection Well In Plum Boro, Allegheny County; 30 Days To File Appeal  [PaEN]

-- DEP To Increase Monitoring, Develop Surface Water Standard For PFAS 'Forever Chemicals' After Study Shows 76% Of Streams, Rivers Contained At Least One Of These Chemicals  [PaEN]

-- DEP: Widespread Presence Of PFAS ‘Forever Chemicals’ In Fresh Water Leading Shale Gas Operators To Use Contaminated Water In Fracking Operations; DEP Doesn’t Require Routine PFAS Testing  [PaEN]

-- DEP Hears Concerns, Some Support From Water Resources Committee On Draft Reg. On Reporting Unauthorized Spills, Releases  [PaEN]

-- House Environmental Committee Meets Sept. 26 On Cryptocurrency Mining Moratorium Bill [PaEN]

-- Dickinson College Will Host An Evening With Environmental & Indigenous Rights Advocate Tara Houska On Her Groundbreaking Advocacy Work Oct. 4  [PaEN]

-- Clean Air Council, FracTracker Alliance Sept. 28 Webinar Updates Public On Efforts To Reduce Methane, Other Air Pollution From Oil & Gas Industry Infrastructure - Shale Gas & Conventional Wells  [PaEN]

-- FracTracker Alliance Now Accepting Nominations For 2023 Community Sentinel Award  [PaEN] 

-- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, NERC Final Report On Winter Storm Elliott Says Legislative Action Needed To Establish Reliability Rules For Natural Gas Infrastructure  [PaEN]

-- PUC To Seek Public Comment On Proposed $100,000 Penalty Settlement With Mifflin Energy Corp. For Natural Gas Explosion Destroying Home/Business In Greene County  [PaEN] 

[Posted: September 25, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner