Ohio’s methane disaster

The XTO Methane disaster. [Screenshot: Earthworks]

PRESS RELEASE

Infrared Video Exposes Exxon Mobil Methane Disaster at Exploded Oil & Gas Site in Ohio

Experts are comparing the magnitude of the disaster to California’s Aliso Canyon

Captina Creek, Ohio — On Tuesday, Earthworks released new optical gas imaging video [below] that exposes massive methane pollution at an exploded XTO Energy oil and gas site in Belmont County, Ohio. (XTO Energy works across 553,000 acres in Colorado, with 270 employees helping to produce 130 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.)

The pollution in Belmont County has been rapidly spilling into the air un-contained since February 15, 2018.

“Similar to the Aliso Canyon disaster in California in 2015, XTO has been unable to fix the problem,” said Pete Dronkers, Earthworks certified optical gas imaging thermographer who also filmed Aliso Canyon. “Our video provides evidence of just how bad the problem is so that nearby communities can make informed decisions about the health and safety of their families before returning to their homes.”

The video was captured as part of Earthworks’ Community Empowerment Project (CEP) as a result of a request from local community members who could see the explosion from their home two miles away.

CEP helps protect communities and the climate by making visible normally invisible air pollution from oil and gas production, pressuring regulators and companies to reduce that pollution. In the past four years, CEP has documented and made publicly available over 500 incidents of oil and gas related air pollution in 16 states, Mexico and Canada.

Following the explosion at the Schnegg pad, Exxon Mobil-owned XTO ordered an evacuation for 30 homes within a mile of the site. The outer half-mile has since been approved to return, but some have elected to stay clear until the well pad is capped.

“Disasters like this are difficult to predict and to regulate. If we really want to keep our communities safe we need to keep oil and gas in the ground,” said Jennifer Krill, Earthworks’ Executive Director.

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report estimates pollution from the still out-of-control site at 100 million cubic feet per day. This pollution includes methane, produced water, brine, unknown condensate components, and volatile organic compounds — all being released into the surrounding environment untreated and unfiltered.

The EPA report also records XTO’s inventory of “hazardous substances” on the well pad at the time of the blow-out, as follows:

  • 225,500 gallons of hydrochloric acid
  • 19,739 gallons of “FR-16” (containing hydrotreated light petroleum distillates and ethylene glycol)
  • 8,413 gallons of “GA-7F” (containing hydrotreated light petroleum distillates, guar gum, ethoxylated alcohols and oranophylic clay)
  • 3,499 gallons of “SI-6” (containing ammonium chloride, monoethanolamine hydrochloride, methanol and “proprietary components”)
  • 1,976 gallons of “BioClear 2000” (containing 2,2-Dibromo-3-nitrilopropionamide)
  • 635 gallons of “BR-11” (containing ammonium persulfate, cured resin and silica)
  • 454 gallons of “CI-3” (containing ethylene glycol, dimethylformamide, 2-butoxyethanol, 4-nonylphenol, 1-octanol, isopropanol and triethyl phosphate)
  • plus other materials described (in the OSHA-mandated Safety Data Sheets) only as “trade secrets.”

California’s Air Resources Board estimates that the Aliso Canyon disaster in Porter Ranch, California in 2015 released an average of 49 million cubic feet of methane daily for more than three months. Methane is 86 times worse for the climate than carbon dioxide over 20 years according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In a Truthout interview, Earthworks policy director Lauren Pagel said: “Even if we have the best regulations that can reasonably be asked for, they likely would not stop this type of disaster, and that is not a risk that we should be willing to accept.”

Pagel said accidents like well blowouts and large oil and gas leaks are typically the result of a confluence of factors, including plain old bad luck. They also become more common as the oil and gas industry expands. She suggested that large methane releases like the disaster in Aliso Canyon and the ongoing leak in Belmont County raise serious questions about relying on fossil fuels for energy rather than turning to cleaner, renewable alternatives.

“We don’t have the luxury of blowing out a bunch of wells across the world and releasing a lot of methane on a regular basis, either from leaks or disaster,” Pagel said. “We don’t have that luxury because of climate change.”

For more information:

Ohio Gas Well Was Spewing Methane Pollution Three Weeks After Blowout

Day 20: XTO’s exploded gas well that vented methane, caused 2 mile no fly zone for weeks finally capped; Powhatan residents return home; Authorities chant no harm to public, no safety risk

[Source: Powhatan Point Volunteer Fire Department]

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