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Fumes at Lisby Pad sicken residents

By Staff | Apr 9, 2014

Tyler County emergency services personnel were called to the Jay-Bee Oil and Gas well location on the Lisby Pad on Big Run, near Indian Creek on March 27 after nearby residents reported fumes from the well pad were making them ill.

Tyler County emergency services personnel were again called to the Jay-Bee Oil and Gas well location on the Lisby Pad on Big Run, near Indian Creek on March 27 at around 10 p.m. Residents had called to complain about gas fumes from the well pad making them sick and giving them headaches. When both fire department personnel and EMTs arrived they confirmed the presence of irritating and harmful vapors at a long distance away from the well site. Emergency first responders also experienced the headaches and sickening feelings.

Later the same night Tyler County Office of Emergency Management Director Tom Cooper met with representatives of Jay-Bee Oil and Gas at the well site to discuss the problems at the well operations.

Over the next few days additional state inspectors from both from the Office of Oil and Gas, and the Division of Air Quality visited the site to evaluate the status of the well pad and investigate causes and possible remedies. The raw gas smell on Big Run has continued since the original incident.

The four wells on that pad had recently been hydro-fractured, after which the plugs had been removed and the well was being flowed back. The gas and liquid mixture coming back up from the wells is being stored in the six large tanks on the well pad and the vent pipes on the tank are vented to the atmosphere. Since these vent pipe are releasing the fumes to the surrounding air, the chief of the Office of Oil & Gas, James Martin, has said that the WVDEP is in discussions with the gas well operator to proceed with the installation of vapor recovery units on the six storage tanks.

Vapor recovery units are commonly installed on condensate storage tanks on many well pad tank batteries to lessen the potential of air pollution from the natural gas liquids stored in the tanks.

As a result of the investigation by the WVDEP, the Division of Air Quality, on April 1 issued a Notice of Violation to Jay-Bee Oil and Gas for constructing and operating a stationary source of air pollutants without a permit. Jay Bee is required to provide, within 30 days, a detailed explanation of the causes and remedies being taken and provide information on when all equipment was first installed. Additionally, the company is required to provide a detailed evaluation of all the potential air emissions from all their other sites in West Virginia.

Previously there was an enforcement action by the DEP at the same well pad site in early January after an explosion injured one employee.

Investigators believe the tank explosion occurred as vapors formed from the fluids inside the tank and somehow ignited, possibly from static electricity. The ignition and blast dislodged a large tank from its foundation, causing a spill.

Because of the demonstrated need for more accurate determination of the presence of volatile organic compounds in these types of emergency situations, Cooper will try to acquire the monitors and instruments which would help protect first responders and more clearly show the level of dangerous and potentially harmful gases.