Pipeline explosion kills five in Allentown
A 16-year-old girl and four-month-old boy were among five people who died as a result of a natural gas pipeline explosion in Allentown, PA. The February 16 blast leveled a pair of row houses and set fire to a block of homes. Governor Tom Corbett visited the site and said the state needs to address its aging gas, water and sewer lines. The following day, a gas pipeline explosion occurred in Columbiana County, OH. Both blasts come in the wake of the catastrophic natural gas pipeline explosion and fire that occurred in San Bruno, CA on September 9, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes.
Governor Corbett tabs 36-year-old for new energy post
PA Governor Tom Corbett has appointed Patrick Henderson to the newly created post of energy executive. As reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “The energy executive will be ‘the person who has the ear of the governor on energy policy,’ said Corbett’s spokesman, Kevin Harley, ‘so that there’s one voice on energy issues.’” He will handle issues involving all types of energy, but said that those surrounding Marcellus Shale natural gas “will dominate the conversation.” Henderson spent 14 years as an aide to state Sen. Mary Jo White, R-Venango, serving as director of the environmental resources and energy committee she has chaired for 11 years. Henderson initially served an internship with then-candidate Mary Jo White, who also let him live in her home during her first campaign, then made him a legislative aide when she was elected. “He’s intensely loyal and very thorough,” said White. Regarding Henderson’s appointment, Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said: “He’s someone who is reliable and trusted by many folks.” Jan Jarrett, president of the advocacy group PennFuture, said, “His views tended to be very industry friendly.”
PA General Energy fined $28,960 for illegal surfactant discharge
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined Pennsylvania General Energy Co. LLC (PGE) of Warren $28,960 for the illegal discharge of Airfoam HD, a surfactant, into Pine Creek in Lycoming County last March. Surfactants are used by natural gas drillers to create a foam that will lift water and drill cuttings to the surface. Airfoam HD is approved by DEP for use by the industry. On March 13 and 14, 2010, rainfall and snow melt caused residual Airfoam in a Marcellus well bore to migrate to a spring on the hillside, creating a white, foamy substance. A DEP investigation on March 15 verified that the material was flowing from the spring, down the hillside and into Pine Creek. PGE began diverting the foam and installed an absorbent boom which prevented further discharges to Pine Creek. No constituents of Airfoam HD were detected in Pine Creek. The discharge was a violation of the Clean Streams Law, Solid Waste Management Act and DEP’s oil and gas regulations. The fine was deposited into the fund that supports DEP’s oil and gas permitting and enforcement programs.