Investigations continue surrounding the Cambria County gas leak at the Equitrans Midstream Rager Mountain Storage Facility in Jackson Township. The gas leak has since been capped — after 2 weeks of spewing Methane into the surrounding environment — but concerns about the potential impacts remain.
We’ve been following this from the beginning when the leak first started November 6th. And even though it’s since been plugged, Officials we spoke with Wednesday told us we’re just starting to see both the environmental and regulatory impacts. Zachary Barber, a Clean Air Advocate with Penn Environment saying: “Is this a big deal? Yeah this leak, yeah this leak is a big deal.” David Hess, former Secretary of the Pennsylvania DEP saying: “Is this a big deal? It is a big deal because a billion cubic feet of natural gas leaking from the facility over two weeks indicates real problems.”
Both Barber and Hess say there are still questions about the amount of gas and kind of gas. Barber saying: “So it depends a little bit on what exactly was in the gas that was leaked, but we do know that this is certainly not something you want to be breathing in.” A satellite image captured November 9 shows the size of the Methane plume. Barber adding: “And this was Methane, which is an especially powerful Greenhouse Gas so this will have, this will do real damage to our environment and climate.”
Barber says gas also tends to not only include Methane, but can include other forms of harmful pollution like Benzene which is linked to cancer. Hess saying: “DEP’s Deputy for Oil and Gas, Kurt Klapkowski told the Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board last week that he has ordered a top to bottom review of the way the Agency regulates underground natural gas storage areas as a result of the Equitrans leak in Cambria County.”
Hess explains this isn’t the first time a Deputy for Oil and Gas Management said the DEP needs to up its game on how it regulates underground natural gas storage areas and through the current investigations, he says changes may be made. Hess adding: “It is likely their report will recommend changes in law, changes in regulation, and changes in procedure by the Agency and how to handle leaks like this.”
Barber saying: “And at the end of this, we need to make sure that, that the Company responsible is facing accountability that matches the severity of the problem here and takes steps to prevent stuff like this from happening again.”