Tanks at Washington County Marcellus site catch fire
Damage is visible Tuesday morning at a MarkWest Liberty Midstream Resources LLC compressor station at a Marcellus well site in Mount Pleasant, Washington County.
Closeup view of damage to a tank Tuesday morning at a MarkWest Liberty Midstream Resources LLC compressor station at a Marcellus well site in Mount Pleasant, Washington County.
Officials huddle near a compression station in Mount Pleasant, Washington County, after a worker early Tuesday morning reported smoke coming from the facility.
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One of three tanks at a MarkWest Liberty Midstream Resources LLC compressor station near Marcellus Shale wellheads in Mount Pleasant, Washington County, caught fire around 5:15 a.m. today because of a malfunctioning heater, causing the hatch of a second tank to blow off, according to preliminary information from the state Department of Environmental Protection.
There were no injuries or environmental damage, authorities said.
A 911 call reported smoke and fire at MarkWest's Stewart Compressor Station.
One of the company's technicians put out the fire with a handheld extinguisher and manually shut down the station and the three Range Resources-Appalachia LLC wells that supply it with natual gas.
DEP inspectors are on site.
A compressor station increases the pressure of the natural gas as it flows from underground and moves it along a pipeline to a processing plant.
One tank at a compressor station typically collects liquid that condenses from the gas, and another tank gathers brine water, which is a byproduct of the condensate, said Dan Campbell, a MarkWest spokesman in Denver.
The two affected tanks were empty, said Katy Gresh, a DEP spokeswoman. Inspectors believe that residual gases ignited. A third tank, which has a 400-barrel capacity, contained about 40 barrels of brine but was unaffected, she added.
Inspectors believe a heater inside the compressor tank which prevents fluids from freezing malfunctioned.
"It appears to have malfunctioned causing this ignition in the empty tank. It was residual vapors likely that ignited," Ms. Gresh said.
There were conflicting reports about whether an explosion occurred.
Stephanie Hallowich, whose house is about 580 yards from the station, said she was told that an explosion "shook half of Hickory."
Mrs. Hallowich and her family were not home at the time.
"There might have been a relatively loud noise that might have caused some concern with some of the neighbors," Mr. Campbell said. "It's still not entirely clear what the cause of the fire was. That's still under investigation."
First Published March 1, 2011 6:16 am