DEP probes gas well fire

State regulators are investigating a Tuesday night (July 13) fire at a natural gas well in Susquehanna County.

The blaze began at 8 p.m. at a Marcellus Shale drilling site operated by Chesapeake Energy in Auburn Twp. It took two hours to extinguish the fire, which apparently did not cause any significant contamination to the environment, the state Department of Environmental Protection said.
No one was hurt.
The fire happened when a valve failed, leaked natural gas and ignited, DEP said. The leak was the result of “erosion wear,” Brian Grove, a Chesapeake Energy senior director, said in a statement.
But what exactly caused the spark remains unknown, a company spokesman said. The leak ignited at a point in the extraction process where the gas travels through pipes into a piece of equipment that separates it from wastewater and other chemicals.
Chesapeake Energy shut down both wells on site when the fire started and called state regulators, Grove said. The wells are on private property off Route 367 near Tuscarora Lake.
DEP Secretary John Hanger praised the response of the company and the Rush Volunteer Fire Department.
“We’ll be investigating this operation closely,” he said in a statement.
The Chesapeake Energy site will be closed until repairs are made and regulators finish their investigation, according to DEP. The company operates 182 wells in the Marcellus Shale formation and has been issued 698 natural gas permits statewide.
Efforts were unsuccessful to reach firefighters with the Rush volunteer company.