Community

Gas well burn-off seen for miles

Belmont County - People reported seeing flames shooting into the sky for miles around the Powhatan area on Tuesday night.

Many people thought it was another gas well explosion.

It turns out it was methane gas from the February 15 gas well explosion, being diverted out into a huge pit and burned off.

XTO officials say it was the safest way to do that.

People who live nearby say it lit up the sky.

"When they flared that well, just behind me through the trees, you could see the redness and flickering and it just engulfed the sky," said Allen Young who lives on a lane just off German Ridge.

People said they could see it from as far away as St. Clairsville.

Karen Matusic, XTO public affairs manager, said what they were seeing was not flames.

"So we've had heat shields out there and we had a fire crew from the local vicinity always on site," said Matusic. "And they rarely got above ten, twelve feet--the flames. What you could see was the glow from the sky. It was a very clear night and you could see the glow. But those flames were very controlled."

She says the well that exploded has now been "killed," and there's no longer any methane or brine coming out.

"They're securing the well and they're going to be investigating what happened, working with the regulators to get to the bottom of what happened with that well," said Matusic.

She says the four evacuated families will be going home.

"We will be going in with them in a team to be doing air monitoring in every room to make sure there isn't anything harmful to them," she said.

Allen Young, who lives about two miles away, says his family loves the outdoors and they moved to that rural area years ago for that reason.

But he says recent events have taken a toll on them.

"We started experiencing headaches, dizziness, trouble breathing last night and then this morning, my wife woke up with a nosebleed," said Young.

Matusic said XTO has monitored the air and water quality all along, and found nothing harmful to humans or animals.

But she encourages anyone who feels they have suffered health impacts to go to their doctor.

She says they will cover the cost of their doctor visits.


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