Environment & Energy
3:51 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

State DEP: No Health Concerns From Air Near Well Fire

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says it found “no pollutants that would indicate a potential health concern for local residents or emergency responders” as a result of the Greene County Chevron well fire incident.

It took crews brought in by the company two weeks to cap the fire that broke out Feb. 11 in Dunkard Township. The fire claimed the life of one employee.

DEP spokesman John Poister said the department used temporary air monitoring devices to look at the levels of 57 different toxic air pollutants.

“We really did not know what to expect from the samples,” Poister said. “(The fire) was really something to see, and you wonder what the results are, and we were somewhat gratified to see that the air quality was not adversely affected.”

It has been estimated that between 10 and 25 million cubic feet of gas was being released each day. DEP officials believe the fire was so hot that it was able to consume all of the toxins.

While the DEP did not find any threat to individuals or the environment due to the fire, it did find some higher than expected levels of propane, heptane and 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene. 

Monitors were positioned both upwind and downwind from the well, and the elevated levels were found at all locations. 

“These could come from various other sources,” Poister said.

Heptane is found in paints and solvents, and the trimethylbenzene is found in coal-related products.

“The propane we feel may have come from some nearby propane storage tanks,” Poister said.

The DEP notes the concentrations were dangerously high but did show up as a “blip” on the reports. 

The DEP’s investigation into the cause of the fire continues.