Accident: CNG “Virtual Pipeline” Truck Rolls Over in Upstate NY

One of the arguments/concerns used to defeat a facility near Binghamton, NY that would fill trucks transporting CNG to large customers not lucky enough to be located close to a natgas pipeline is that the trucks used to haul the CNG are “bomb trucks.” Just waiting to explode if they should be in an accident. And you know that sooner or later there will be an accident. NG Advantage had big plans to build a virtual pipeline (gas compression & trucking facility) on the outskirts of Binghamton, in the Town of Fenton. The facility would use gas from the Millennium Pipeline to fill trailers outfitted with a series of CNG canisters. We sat through several information sessions where the safety of those trailers was explained. We looked at one of the rigs, up close and personal. We recall one woman from Hillcrest screeching “It’s so BIG!” upon seeing the tractor trailer–which is much shorter than a standard tractor trailer rig. We heard NG explain that if a truck should be so unfortunate to be in an accident, the safety design would automatically release the gas, which dissipates into the atmosphere immediately–making an explosion or fire extremely unlikely. But facts make no difference in a heated, emotional debate. NG isn’t the only company attempting to service businesses in Upstate with CNG, to compensate for Cuomo’s ban on safe pipelines. Another company, Xpress Natural Gas (XNG), has a virtual pipeline operation based just south of Binghamton in Susquehanna County, PA. Things are so much easier in PA (sigh). An XNG truck was traveling through Otsego County, NY, when the truck overturned on a rural roadway. We thought, this is it. Major explosion, right? Scorched earth everywhere. Ball of fire. Driver burned to a cinder. But no, none of that happened. In fact, NOTHING HAPPENED. The truck overturned, and there it sat until it was pulled back upright again. Perfectly safe, as designed. Which illustrates and exposes the lies so often spread about virtual pipeline operations…
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Columbia Says Landslide Caused Leach XPress Explosion/Fire in WV

TransCanada’s Leach XPress is a 160-mile natural gas pipeline (and compression facilities) located in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle. Leach XPress flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky–hence the name. The pipeline went online January 1st, and a section of it exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). TransCanada (their Columbia Gas Transmission subsidiary) is working hard to get the pipeline back online by “mid-July” (see Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Won’t be Online Until Mid-July). What caused the explosion? That’s been the burning question (no pun intended) since it happened. A stray comment we spotted seemed to indicate it may have been a faulty welding job. But apparently such is not the case. Columbia has told federal regulators that a landslide is the cause of the leak and explosion…
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Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Won’t be Online Until Mid-July

Leach XPress Pipeline explosion/fire on June 7

TransCanada’s Leach XPress project–some 160 miles of new natural gas pipeline and compression facilities in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle which flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky (hence the name)–went online January 1st. A section of the pipeline exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). Still no word on what caused the explosion, although the investigation seems to be centered on a welded seam. TransCanada (and their Columbia Gas Transmission subsidiary) is working hard to get the pipeline back online. The company told shippers in mid-June they expected to have the full 1.5 Bcf/d pipeline back online “early in July” (see TransCanada Says Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Back Online in July). That’s not going to happen since it’s now early July. Last Friday, Columbia pushed back the date to “mid-July,” due to challenges in getting everything remediated and fixed because of heavy rain in the area. Meanwhile, the drillers using Leach continue to find other ways to get their gas to market…
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Another ME2 Mud Spill at Snitz Creek, Another Hysterical Reaction

Sunoco Logistics Partners was drilling horizontally underneath Snitz Creek in Lebanon County, PA for its Mariner East 2 Pipeline project when it experienced yet another “inadvertent return”–nontoxic drilling mud leaking out of a place where it shouldn’t. Sunoco spilled five gallons of nontoxic drilling mud. This is the third time it’s happened in June, and the sixth time it’s happened at the Snitz Creek location in total. Predictably, antis were hysterical. Hysterical, not as in funny, but hysterical as an insane, out-of-control overreaction. Theatrics. Drama. That kind of hysterical. The reaction from antis is organized by “green” groups–in particular by one person from a local green group calling itself Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County. Five gallons of nontoxic drilling mud (the same stuff used to make kitty litter and lipstick) is, quite literally, NOTHING. We’ve seen 5 gallon spills of very toxic gasoline at the local gas station that went unnoticed. Gasoline is far more “toxic” to the environment than what’s happening at Snitz Creek. Why do drilling mud spills keep happening at the Snitz Creek location? Obviously the ground in that area is porous. Every time Sunoco drills under the creek another few feet, drilling mud pops out and drilling activity gets shut down, yet again. This is a recurring situation. We don’t know what the solution is, but not building the pipeline (which is 99% done) is not one of the options. Hopefully Sunoco can find a solution quickly so we can put this ongoing, manufactured, and tiresome drama queen theatrics behind us…
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TransCanada Says Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Back Online in July

TransCanada’s Leach XPress project–some 160 miles of new natural gas pipeline and compression facilities in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle which flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky (hence the name)–went online January 1st. A section of the pipeline exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). TransCanada (and their Columbia Gas Transmission subsidiary) is working feverishly to get the pipeline back online. As of last Friday, the Stagecoach-LXP meter, which ties into the Strike Force South gathering system station, was back up and flowing, up to 190 million cubic feet per day (see Part of Leach XPress Pipe Up and Running Following Explosion). The company told shippers earlier this week they expect to have the full 1.5 Bcf/d pipeline back online “early in July.” Still no word on what caused the explosion, although a stray comment we read leads us to speculate…
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Part of Leach XPress Pipe Up and Running Following Explosion

Leach XPress explosion location – click for larger version

Last Thursday MDN reported that TransCanada was working to restore partial service to the Leach XPress Pipeline (see TransCanada Working to Restore Partial Service on Leach XPress Pipe). Leach XPress only came online in January. The pipeline experienced an explosion and fire on June 7 (see Leach XPress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). Most of the 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of Marcellus/Utica gas flowing through the pipeline was stopped. As of Friday, the Stagecoach-LXP meter, which ties into the Strike Force South gathering system station, was once again flowing, up to 190 million cubic feet per day. Which means Monroe and Belmont counties (OH) are now reconnected and flowing. As for the rest of the pipeline and its various metering stations, it’s all still shut down with no word on when it will be repaired and back online. There’s still no word on what caused the explosion in the first place…
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TransCanada Working to Restore Partial Service on Leach XPress Pipe

We told you last week that Columbia Gas Transmission’s Leach XPress Pipeline, which only came online in January, experienced an explosion and fire in Marshall County, WV (see Leach XPress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). Most of the 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of Marcellus/Utica gas flowing through the pipeline is now stopped, which has caused shippers (drillers) to find alternatives, including Energy Transfer’s Rover, Tallgrass’ Rockies Express (REX), EQT’s Equitrans, and Enbridge’s Texas Eastern Transmission (Tetco) pipelines to flow gas out of the region (see Other Pipelines Pick Up Slack for Exploded Leach XPress). Although a fix for the exploded portion of Leach XPress is likely months away, TransCanada, the owner of Columbia and the Leach pipeline, is working on a plan to quickly restore part of the pipeline to service in southeastern Ohio–which would reconnect Monroe and Belmont counties to the pipeline…
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Other Pipelines Pick Up Slack for Exploded Leach XPress

Leach XPress fire

As we told you last week, Columbia Gas Transmission’s Leach XPress Pipeline, which only came online in January, experienced an explosion and fire in Marshall County, WV last Thursday (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). It’s early days yet, but so far, no word on what may have caused the explosion and resulting fire. The problem is that most (if not all) of the 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of Marcellus/Utica gas flowing through the pipeline is now stopped. What do shippers do? They find alternatives. And so they have. A Reuters article reports that shippers have cut deals with Energy Transfer’s Rover, Tallgrass’ Rockies Express (REX), EQT’s Equitrans, and Enbridge’s Texas Eastern Transmission (Tetco) pipelines to flow their gas out of the region. Below is the article highlighting the alternate routes shippers are using, along a second article speculating (in the absence of any hard facts) about what may have caused the explosion…
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Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV

Click image for larger version

This is not the kind of news we like to share–but it’s important. A newly installed pipeline–that went online in January–experienced an explosion and huge fireball, in Marshall County, WV. TransCanada’s Leach XPress project–some 160 miles of new natural gas pipeline and compression facilities in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle which flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky (hence the name), went online January 1st (see Leach XPress Goes Online; FERC Approves Mountaineer & Gulf XPress). Leach XPress is part of the Columbia Gas Transmission system. From Leach, KY, the gas hitches a ride on TransCanada’s Rayne XPress pipeline to the South and Gulf Coast. A portion of Leach XPress, this brand new, “best-in-class” pipeline (so said TransCanada’s CEO in January), exploded and caught fire at 4:15 am yesterday in Moundsville (Marshall County), WV, sending flames hundreds of feet into the air. Fortunately no one was injured. Some nearby residents fled their homes. Most of the pipeline is now shut down, curtailing 1.3 Bcf/d (out of the 1.5 Bcf/d) of gas volumes “indefinitely.” Here’s what we know (and don’t know) about the accident…
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MarkWest to Remediate 2016 WV Mobley Plant Chemical Spill

In February 2016 there was an accidental release of a hazardous chemical at the MarkWest Energy cryogenic processing plant in Mobley (Wetzel County), WV (see MarkWest’s Mobley Processing Plant Spills Hazardous Oil into Creek). The fluid in question is DOWTHERM™ MX Heat Transfer Fluid, a chemical used as as a heat transfer fluid meant for closed-loop systems. An estimated 3,000 gallons of the fluid spilled, some of it reaching the North Fork of Fishing Creek and some of that entered the water intake for the community of Pine Grove, WV. However, the plant (Pine Grove Water Works) was closed before any of the water was used by local residents–so there was no health threat. A month later MarkWest reported they were done cleaning up the spill and the Pine Grove Water Works was back up and running (see MarkWest Hazardous Spill at Mobley Plant Now Cleaned Up). We thought that was the end of it, but alas, it was not. The Office of Environmental Remediation (OER) at the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) reports it has just accepted a “Voluntary Remediation Program” application submitted by MarkWest to address ongoing environmental conditions at the Mobley Plant related to the Feb. 2016 spill. The plan will look at current and future uses of the site and determine how best to prevent migration of anything leftover from the spill…
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Offer to Relocate Families Near ME2 Sinkholes; ME1 Down Until May?

Sinkhole in Chester County, PA

Sunoco Logistics Partners (aka Energy Transfer Parnters) has had its challenges in constructing the twin Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipelines across Pennsylvania. In March, MDN told you that underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work in Chester County had led to a third sinkhole developing in that area (see 3rd Sinkhole Appears Near ME2 Construction in Chester County, PA). For most of its length, ME2 is being built next to the existing ME1 (Mariner East 1), a liquids pipeline originally built in 1931. The third sinkhole in Chester County exposed a portion of ME1, leading to the state Public Utility Commission “temporarily” shutting down ME1 on March 7 (see PA PUC Shuts Down Mariner 1 Pipeline Due to Mariner 2 Sinkhole). ME1 would be, according to Sunoco, out of commission for “10 to 14 days.” Nearly a month later it’s still not running and until the state Dept. of Environmental Protection gets solid answers about the sinkholes, it won’t restart. It now looks like ME1 won’t be operational again until May. ME1’s closure has put several shippers, primarily Range Resources, in a bind (see Range, CNX Look for Alternatives to ME1 Pipe Following Shutdown). Sunoco needs to conduct geotechnical studies near the sinkholes to get answers that will allow it to resume work. So, Sunoco has offered to temporarily relocate five families living near the three sinkholes–for up to six weeks–while it conducts tests of the area…
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PA Supreme Court Axes DEP $4.5M Fine in EQT Tioga Wastewater Leak

EQT had to take their case all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but in the end, the company was victorious over a wildly overinflated $4.53 million fine levied by the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a leaky wastewater impoundment in Tioga County dating back to 2014 (see PA DEP Levies Biggest Fine Ever, $4.5M Against EQT). While EQT did not say there wasn’t a problem with leaks at the site, they did say the way the DEP calculated the fine was unreasonable and arbitrary. In fact, EQT says the DEP levied the fine and took EQT to court because a few weeks prior EQT had sued the DEP over a different, unrelated matter (i.e., sour grapes on the part of the DEP). EQT appealed the fine and the case all the way to the PA Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments last November (see PA Supreme Court Hears Arguments in EQT Wastewater Leak Case). Last Wednesday the PA Supremes ruled (5-2) in favor of EQT, saying that the DEP’s levied fine was excessive and that the DEP misinterpreted language in the 1937 Clean Streams Law…
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New Video of Burning XTO Well in Belmont County; EPA’s Wild Claim

XTO well in Belmont County, OH

As we reported on Tuesday, it has now been over a month since a Utica Shale well being drilled by XTO Energy Belmont County, OH exploded and caught fire (see XTO Well Explosion in Ohio Still Under Investigation Month Later). A variety state and federal agencies are investigating to see what went wrong. Still no guesses or theories. However, lack of hard data isn’t stopping the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from making a wild, off-the-cuff claim that the well leaked 100 million cubic feet of methane into the atmosphere per day until it was capped (see Exploded XTO Well in Belmont County Finally Capped After 20 Days). What does the EPA base that claim on? Nothing. It’s a guess. EPA officials were at the scene of the exploded well shortly after it exploded–but they never took any measurements. Why measure when you can guess? XTO is pushing back against the EPA’s wild guess. Below we have more on the EPA’s guesswork, and a just-released video of the burning well, taken from the air on the day the well exploded…
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ME2 Drilling at 2 Locations Near Altoona Shut Down for Leaks

In early March MDN reported that Sunoco Logistics’ underground horizontal drilling (HDD) work on its massive Mariner East 2 NGL pipeline near Philadelphia had resulted in several sinkholes developing (see 3rd Sinkhole Appears Near ME2 Construction in Chester County, PA). Yesterday we reported the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) had stopped ME2 HDD work in Lebanon County following a 50 gallon drilling mud leak (see ME2 Construction in Lebanon County Stopped for 50 Gal Mud Spill). And now, more trouble for ME2 HDD work. This time Sunoco’s work at two different locations in Blair County (Altoona area) has resulted in the DEP shutting down further HDD work at both sites. In one case, around 200 gallons of drilling mud leaked out where it wasn’t supposed to (called an “inadvertent return”)–into a wetland. In the other case, a drill pit overflowed and leaked diluted drilling fluid into the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River. Here’s the latest in Sunoco’s series of unfortunate events…
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XTO Well Explosion in Ohio Still Under Investigation Month Later

On Feb. 15, XTO Energy was drilling a Utica Shale well on the Schnegg well pad near Captina Creek (York Township, Belmont County, OH) when they “lost control” of the well and it exploded and caught fire (see XTO Energy Utica Well Explosion in Belmont County – 100 Evacuated). Fortunately no one was injured. It took XTO 20 days to get the well capped so it would stop venting methane into the atmosphere (see Exploded XTO Well in Belmont County Finally Capped After 20 Days). It’s now 35 days from the initial explosion and XTO and state officials investigating the incident still don’t know why it happened. An XTO spokesperson updated Belmont Count commissioners last week on the aftermath of the explosion and how XTO is working hard to ensure area residents are well taken care of. Here’s the latest on the aftermath, and the ongoing investigation…
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ME2 Construction in Lebanon County Stopped for 50 Gal Mud Spill

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has just shut down further drilling for the Mariner East 2 Pipeline project at Snitz Creek in Lebanon County, PA because of a 50 gallon spill of non-toxic drilling mud. This isn’t the first time the DEP has stopped underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work at Snitz Creek. Last November they did the same thing for a piddly 1 gallon spill (see PA DEP Shuts Down ME2 Drilling in Lebanon, PA for 1 Gal Mud Spill). In the parlance of today, leaking 50 gallons of drilling mud into Snitz Creek is a nothing-burger. Biased reporters like those at PBS StateImpact Pennsylvania make it out to be the environmental crime of the century. There’s more environmental damage from overfilling a gas tank at the local Sheetz that spills two gallons of gasoline onto the pavement than there is from spilling 50 gallons of non-toxic kitty litter (or toothpaste, or lipstick) into Snitz Creek. But there you go. Sunoco voluntarily reported the incident, and was promptly shut down at that site until further notice. Meanwhile, a few weeks ago a farmer in nearby Lancaster County spilled 100,000 gallons of manure into two creeks–with zero consequences. Why didn’t the DEP shut down the farm?…
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