Avella Community Concerned About Air In Wake Of Flash Fire

By Andy Sheehan

AVELLA (KDKA) — At Vitari’s Vittles, owner Nick Vitari thinks Marcellus drilling has been a shot in the arm for sleepy Avella‘s economy, but Wednesday night’s flash fire certainly gives him pause.

“I’d really hate to see it stopped because of this, but I’d like to make sure that we’re all safe and that we don’t have problems here – people’s houses, people’s families,” he said.

Bill Fowler says he feels more like a guinea pig to this new industry in Washington County and is especially concerned about what exactly was burning the other night.

“That’s questions that we need answered. What was burning? What did they put in the air?” he said.

“There’s a lot of old people in this town with breathing problems and stuff. We have no idea what it was that they [were] putting up there.”

Chesapeake Energy says what was stored in those tanks was condensate, so-called wet gas, a byproduct of natural gas used in the production of gasoline. The company says it burns rather cleanly with minimal impact on air quality.

“Our understanding is right now there has been no off-site environmental degradation,” said Scott Rotruck of Chesapeake.

But federal investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) confirmed that they are testing and analyzing the remaining contents of those tanks to determine exactly what chemicals were present.

OSHA and the state Department of Environmental Protection continue to investigate, but thus far, Chesapeake has not been cited for any violations related to this incident.

The state has cited the company for more than a dozen violations in the past, but Chesapeake was in full compliance at the time of the accident.

Chesapeake Energy


One Comment

  1. John Moyer says:

    The good people of Avella have a right to know that their families will be safe. The oil & gas industry have shown they care little about safety, given the risks involved.

  2. Nancy says:

    yes, i want to know what was in those tanks! What chemicals where in there?

  3. Some of the chenicals strored and used are ZettaFlow, which contains benzene, and other chemicals which haliburton is being sued over to disclose. Chesapeake and Range Resources, use in their fracking opperation.

  4. The night of the explosion I could smell benzene, I have demoed tanks at arco that had stored benzene in them. I know that smell anywhere.

Comments are closed.

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