New Castle News

Closer Look

September 13, 2013

Gas smell results in road closings, evacuations

NEW CASTLE — Roads were closed and residents evacuated Wednesday night when a pressure relief valve failed at a gas well head.

Mercer Road, Fayette-New Wilmington Road and State Route 956 from Elder’s Pond to Wilson Mill Road were closed to traffic as a precaution from about 7:45 to after 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Lt. Cory Eckels of the New Wilmington Volunteer Fire Department said residents from about a dozen houses were affected.

“Ultimately, no one was in real danger,” he said. “But we took all necessary precautions.”

Eckels said a strong scent of gas was noticed in the area.

 Due to the high humidity and the location of the well — in a low-lying area in a cornfield at Elder’s Corners — Eckels said he opted to order an evacuation.

“The air was heavy, it was a low area and the gas was building up,” he said.

A representative of Atlas Gas Co., which has several wells in the area, arrived and told Eckels a secondary pressure relief valve on the well head had failed.

“This caused compressors to shut down. Gas that had  built up in the line leaked out over a two hour period and corrected itself, as it is designed to do,” he said. “Everything worked out as it was supposed to.”

New Wilmington was assisted by volunteer firefighters from Neshannock Township and Volant Borough.

“We had people come from all directions to help in the evacuations,” he said. “With the presence of gas, we didn’t want to drive our trucks through the area and we didn’t want traffic going through. The roads were closed as a safety precaution. Nothing escalated into anything dangerous.”

Pennsylvania State Police and representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation also assisted.

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