Cause of Fire at MarkWest Compressor Station in Western PA was Faulty Water Heater

There was a fire earlier this week at a MarkWest Liberty Midstream natural gas compressor station in Mount Pleasant (Washington County), PA. No one was injured and the fire was quickly extinguished. It is now known that a faulty water heater caused the fire.

A failing water heater is the likely cause of a Washington County industrial fire this week, officials from MarkWest Energy Partners said Thursday during a meeting…

The natural gas firm…took lawmakers and reporters on a tour of MarkWest’s expanding gas processing sites in Washington County. The company is doubling the size of its gas processing plant in Chartiers and planning to add to its 10 compressor stations in the county, but officials had to spend part of their presentation explaining a Tuesday fire.

“These are the kinds of things that keep me up at night,” John C. Mollenkopf, MarkWest senior vice president and chief operating officer, said about the fire that caused no injuries at a Mt. Pleasant site. “We never want these things to happen.”

MarkWest is a middleman in the industry, taking gas from other companies’ wells and processing it for sale largely by separating the gas from water and other hydrocarbons. One of its water holding tanks caught fire when hydrocarbons lingering on top of the water ignited.

With warm weather and low water in the tank, a heater used to keep the water from freezing should have shut off, but didn’t, igniting the hydrocarbons. MarkWest has disconnected all of its tanks’ water heaters until a cause for the failure is found, Mollenkopf said.

*Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Mar 4) – Expanding gas company touts safety