Disastrous Day in Fossil Fuels: WV coal slurry spill, PA gas well explosion, ND gas explosion

Disastrous Day in Fossil Fuels: WV coal slurry spill, PA gas well explosion, ND gas explosion
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West Virginia officials are reporting that a coal slurry line at the Kanawha Eagle Prep Plant, which belongs to Patriot Coal, ruptured and spilled a toxic byproduct from the coal mining and preparation process into a creek that feeds the Kanawha River early this morning. More than 100,000 gallons of slurry spilled, and state officials are monitoring potential impacts on public health and the local water supply.

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) officials say the leak is “significant” and are comparing it to last month’s Freedom Industries’ coal chemical spill into the Elk River, which contaminated the tapwater of 300,000 West Virginians.

Incredibly, that’s just one of the fossil fuels disasters that happened today. Just a few miles across the border from West Virginia, a natural gas well operated by Chevron in Dilliner, Pennsylvania exploded and continues to burn, as firefighters cannot get close enough to extinguish it, due to the intense heat. One person was injured and taken to the hospital, and another person remains missing.

Another natural gas explosion was reported last night, this one in Tioga, North Dakota. Hiland Partners operates the pipeline that ruptured, leading to an explosion and fire that could be seen, apparently, for miles. Randall Pederson of the Tioga Fire and Ambulance Department told the Bismarck Tribune that he “could see a large glow south of town” so he knew it was a big blaze even before he got to the scene.

Here is one YouTube user’s video of the scene in Tioga last night:

We’ll keep you updated on all of these stories as the day progresses.

Image credit: WSAZ via Twitter

**UPDATE**

Update 02/11/14 2:26PM PST: A specialized fire-fighting crew trained to handle well fires has been flown in from Texas to the Chevron natural gas facility in Pennsylvania, but reports say it could take days to extinguish the blaze. Here’s video footage of the ongoing fire from WPXI

Update 02/11/14 4:02PM PST: More photos of the coal slurry spill in West Virginia by Foo Conner:

Many more photos here.

Update 02/12/14 10:01AM PST: Bloomberg Businessweek points out that Patriot Coal just emerged from bankruptcy in December, and is now facing “enforcement action,” according to West Virgina officials. The cause of the coal slurry spill at Patriot’s Kanawha Eagle Prep Plant was a slurry-line seal that failed, and it is currently believed that 108,000 gallons of slurry leaked into Fields Creek.

Update 02/18/14 3:24PM PST: WTAE is reporting that the fire that followed the explosion at the Chevron natural gas pipeline in southwestern Pennsylvania finally went out on Saturday—after burning for five days. There is still one worker unaccounted for.

Disastrous Day in Fossil Fuels: WV coal slurry spill, PA gas well explosion, ND gas explosion
Mike Gaworecki is a San Francisco-based journalist who writes about energy, climate, and forest issues for DeSmogBlog and Mongabay.com. His writing has appeared on BillMoyers.com, Alternet, Treehugger, Change.org, Huffington Post, and more. He is also a novelist whose debut “The Mysticist” came out via FreemadeSF in 2014.

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