Operators of a natural gas storage well in western Pennsylvania say workers have successfully plugged a leak that was releasing large amounts of global warming methane into the atmosphere for two weeks.
Equitrans Midstream said a well at the Rager Mountain storage facility in a rural area about 1.5 hours east of Pittsburgh was sealed with concrete on Sunday. According to initial estimates, the well has been discharging about 100 million cubic feet of natural gas per day since November 6th.
If accurate, this would total more than 1.4 billion cubic feet of methane, equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from burning more than 7,200 gas tank trucks.
Pennsylvania’s environmental regulator has issued five notices to the company for potential violations of state law.
The company confirmed 0% gas readings in and around the well, according to a statement provided by Equitrans on Sunday. It was pumped into the well above two plugs.
Rager’s facility is located in Jackson Township at the center of the Marcellus Shale Formation, where gas production has surged since hydraulic fracturing was introduced over a decade ago. A resident who lives four miles away from the leak told his Associated Press on Friday that he could hear the roar of pressurized gas escaping from the well and could smell smoke.
Methane, the main component of natural gas, is colorless and odorless. But when the gas is processed for transportation and sale, producers add chemicals called mercaptans to give it a distinctive “rotten egg” smell that helps alert people to leaks.
Methane’s global warming potential is about 83 times stronger than carbon dioxide from car exhaust pipes and power plant chimneys, and has been for over 20 years. Oil and gas companies are the largest industrial emitters of methane, and once released into the atmosphere, it disrupts the climate for decades, causing heat waves, hurricanes, wildfires and floods.
The leak came on Nov. 11 when the Environmental Protection Agency updated its proposal for new rules aimed at reducing methane and other harmful emissions from oil and gas operations.
The subpoena issued against the company by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection includes failing to properly maintain and operate the gas facility, causing public nuisance and creating a “hazard to public health and safety.” increase. The company was also cited for not providing “free and unrestricted access” to state inspectors.
Bisecker reported from Washington.
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https://www.ksat.com/news/politics/2022/11/20/company-leak-at-pennsylvania-gas-storage-well-plugged/ Leak in Pennsylvania gas storage well plugged