HOUSTON, Pa. (KDKA) — At the MarkWest processing plant in Houston, Pa., they separate different types of gases and burn off the excess in towers.
But sometimes giant flares light the sky and emit huge plumes of black smoke.
Lillian Pilkington, who lived in the house across the street for 66 years, says it’s having a serious health impact on resident nearby.
“I’ve had to put two dogs down because they were having seizures,” said Pilkington. “My husband couldn’t breathe. I lost him two years ago. Don’t tell me it doesn’t affect us.”
Now, for the second time in eight months, the state Department of Environmental Protection has cited MarkWest for violating state codes in relation to these smoky flares.
“The flare itself, the fire that’s coming out of the stack, that’s okay,” said John Poister, of the DEP. “It’s the smoke, the heavy, heavy black smoke, that the residents are concerned about, and in fact, the DEP is very concerned about.”
The DEP cited MarkWest for incidents on July 14 and 15 when the company says it was bringing new equipment online which did not function properly.
While they say the public was not at risk, MarkWest issued a conciliatory statement: “We will continue to work with DEP to evaluate the issue and will take all necessary steps to minimize the potential of such events. We appreciate the community’s patience and understanding as this new equipment is put into operation.”
But while the DEP says it has not detected any long-term impact on air quality, Pilkington doesn’t believe it.
“They say it’s all right, but it’s not all right,” she said.