Williams Energy is facing a citation for “conditions not allowable in state waters” after the company’s pipeline rupture allowed 132 barrels of Marcellus Shale condensate to spill into Little Grave Creek in Glen Dale, WV, last week.
The 4-inch condensate conduit broke late Thursday, less than three hours before a 12-inch natural gas pipeline — also operated by Williams — failed in the Bane Lane area of Marshall County.
“Other violations may be issued depending on the evolution and discovery of site conditions,” said West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) spokeswoman Kelley J. Gillenwater of the 4-inch pipeline rupture. “The condensate has impacted approximately 6 miles of Little Grave Creek in Marshall County.”
The U.S. Energy Information Administration classifies condensates as light liquid hydrocarbons recovered at natural gas well sites that producers market for profit. Industry officials often compare the material to crude oil.
Gillenwater said a visible sheen remains along Little Grave Creek, along with a slight odor. This stream ultimately leads to the Ohio River, but she said the incident did not affect drinking water intakes. Gillenwater said an environmental remediation company hired by Williams placed containment booms in the creek to prevent the material from proliferating.
“Williams has and will continue to take water samples of Little Grave Creek starting at the mouth of the Ohio River, and sampling all public accesses of the stream to the right of way,” Gillenwater said. “An unnamed tributary is also believed to have been impacted and this stream is also being sampled.”
Williams spokeswoman Helen Humphreys said on Friday company officials believe “heavy rains in the area, which may have destabilized soils, were a contributing factor” in the two pipeline failures late Thursday.
Humphreys said both pipelines remain shutdown as company and state inspectors determine the full cause of the ruptures before initiating repairs.
“The company hired independent experts to take water samples of nearby tributaries and Little Grave Creek beginning the night of the incident to determine whether and to what extent these water bodies might have been impacted,” she said.
Tulsa, Okla.-based Williams transports natural gas and liquids for Chevron, Southwestern Energy, Gastar Exploration, Trans Energy, and several other producers in northern West Virginia.
The firm operates a massive pipeline and processing infrastructure network in Marshall County. It runs the Oak Grove processing plant, the Fort Beeler processing plant and the Moundsville fractionator, all of which end up connected by pipelines.
Humphreys said the 12-inch line that broke near Bane Lane Thursday collects natural gas from producing wells throughout the area for shipment to the nearby Fort Beeler plant. She said officials knew they had a problem because of a noticeable pressure drop.