Company: No gas detected in area of Jackson Township leak

Nov. 20—VINTONDALE, Pa. — There were no signs of leaking natural gas on Sunday at and around a Jackson Township natural gas storage well from which gas had been venting for two weeks, said a spokeswoman for the company that owns the well.

Natalie Cox, from the communications and corporate affairs department at Equitrans Midstream Corp., said that crews working at the company's Rager Mountain storage facility, 555 Dishong Mountain Road, stopped the gas leak on Saturday by flooding the well, then successfully put one of two planned plugs in place.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Equitrans verified a 0% gas reading at and around the well on Sunday, Cox said. The second plug was then put in place and more than 250 feet of cement was pumped into the well above the plugs in an attempt to ensure the leak does not recur.

The plugs were placed after crews initially flooded the well and stopped the flow of gas on Thursday, but the leak resumed on Friday morning.

According to the company, a full root cause investigation and a comprehensive environmental assessment of the facility and surrounding area will be performed in coordination with DEP and the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Cox added that the company will conduct a comprehensive fit-for-service analysis on all wells at the Rager Mountain storage facility before returning it to full service.

DEP has cited Equitrans five times over the leak, which began Nov. 6. The first citation was issued Nov. 7 for trying to prevent state inspectors from accessing the site. Inspection reports indicate that when state inspectors arrived on site, they were told by officials from Equitrans "that access was being restricted to critical personnel only."

Four additional citations followed on Nov. 8, including for failing to maintain the integrity of a gas well and reservoir, "unlawful conduct" and venting "gas to the atmosphere that produced a hazard to the public's health and safety."

The citations from the department indicated that the company could be cited again in the future. No public inspection reports, including violations, have been logged by the department since Nov. 9.

Cox said on Friday that Equitrans' "preliminary, conservative estimate" was that 100 million cubic feet of natural gas per day was lost from the well while the leak was ongoing. However, she added that the company would be "unable to provide an accurate account of the gas loss until an inventory verification study is completed."

The Rager Mountain storage facility has 10 storage wells and a total capacity of 9 billion cubic feet of gas.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a temporary flight restriction around the site of the leak that was in place during the duration of the leak was set to expire at 9 p.m. Sunday, but did not appear to be in place Sunday afternoon.

A community hotline (888-574-6944) which was set up to provide general updates during the incident will remain open through Nov. 28.