By Matt Vine
Wyoming County Press Examiner
KUNKLE, Pa. — Area residents expressed deep concerns last Friday with the state’s readiness to help when it comes to natural gas leaks.
A gas leak happened at about 3 a.m., Nov. 23, when there was something that was malfunctioning inside PVR Partners’ Chapin dehydration station, which caused one of the safety valves to release gas.
Kunkle Fire Chief Jack Dodson said his company’s job – which includes responsibility for all of Monroe Township – is to protect the area surrounding the PVR station.
According to Sen. Lisa Baker, of Lehman Twp., PVR representatives had an invitation to attend the public meeting on Friday, but chose not to be present.
Many who came to the meeting raised a question of what can be done to prevent gas leaks from ever happening again.
Scott Cannon, Plymouth, who has been studying the Marcellus Shale issue all over northeastern Pennsylvania for years, said that residents are scared about feeling vibrations throughout their homes every day.
“My main concern is whose got the power to shut the station down for good,” Cannon said. “Also if the station continues to operate, the property value that surrounds the station will decrease tremendously.”
Cannon also said that the station should not have been built around people’s homes.
Cannon was upset that even though the meeting was informative about safety plans for the local government and the residents, there was little discussion about steps that are needed for residents to take if a leak happens again.
Michael Chilek, state Public Utility Commission gas safety supervisor, said he was notified within 24 hours from the time of the leak.
Chilek said he was upset at the ongoing communication between PVR and agencies that have responsibility for handling of the issue.
Kevin Augustine, an Emergency Response Program Manager for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said that the state is conducting 360 degree surveillance around the PVR station to monitor air quality.
Barbara Goode, Dallas township resident, who lives across the street from the station, is concerned with safety of the people and children.
“Are we safe to stay in our homes, if this happens again, or do I need to evacuate,” Goode said. “In the meantime, what do we need to do?”
Goode also said that every day her house vibrates, because of the station’s operations.
Dodson said that there will be a command center at the fire company which is less than a mile away from the dehydration station.
“If the gas would be a true emergency, the sirens will go off and you will be notified right away if or when to leave the area,” Dodson said.
Baker said that the state and county officials will be working on a plan for emergency personnel to respond to emergencies and relay the proper information as quickly as possible.
“We need more information from PVR in order for us to continue the investigation of the station’s practices on safety,” Baker said.
Copyright 2012 Wyoming County Press Examiner (PA)
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