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Statoil Explains Eisenbarth Well Pad Fire

By Staff | Jul 23, 2014

Nick Benson, Statoil Emergency Response Coordinator and Statoil’s lead for the Unified Command response, states that he wrote the incident management program for Statoil.

A special meeting was held July 10 in regard to the June 28 Statoil Eisenbarth well pad fire in Monroe County.

After a short PowerPoint presentation, Statoil also had several stations set up around the room at River High School for those who had questions, including questions regarding the fire’s environmental impact, personal claims, and community relations.

Vice President of Development and Production for Statoil’s Marcellus Andy Winkle was the first to speak. “First of all, let me apologize for the inconvenience,” Winkle stated. “When I came here over a year ago, I said we were coming into your neighborhood. We are going to be here a long time. We want to feel a part of what you are doing, and we had an incident. I’m sorry for that.” he noted. “It was an inconvenience for you, and it created problems for access, and you see a lot more truck traffic, but through the fire, no one was hurt. We have 51 people on location. Everything was sufficient and well-organized. We got all those people off safely. There were no injuries and no death and no problems.”

Winkle stated that Statoil works with the state and federal Environmental Protection Agencies, emergency responders, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in what is called “a unified command.”

“All the decisions made to how things are responded to are done by this group, and so everyone’s interests are being taken care of.”

Winkle stated that the fire occurred at approximately 10 a.m. on June 28. “That was when we were informed in Houston. We have an emergency response. We have a group of people who are continually on call. They received information that something was happening on the Eisenbarth Pad, so they put into a series of precautionary measures.”

Winkle expressed gratitude to Phil Keevert of the Monroe Emergency Management Authority, stating, “They did a temporary evacuation that was to make sure everyone was safe. This was carried out by the Ohio State Police. Fortunately that was short-lived and we were able to get everyone back safely. The fire was extinguished on the morning of June 29, according to Winkle.

“There were no reports of injuries associated with this incident,” Winkle noted, “and the fire was limited.” He stated that there had been questions as to whether there were any of the problems with the wells at the site. “Three of the wells were being fracked. We have eight wells on location. They are all safe, and we are working now to put fire seals in them. That should happen within the next few days.”

“The cause of the fire is still early into the investigation,” Winkle noted. “We want you to understand, a lot of things we need to sort through, but we will keep you informed.”

Nick Benson, Statoil Emergency Response Coordinator and Statoil’s lead for the Unified Command response, stated that he wrote the incident management program for Statoil. “It’s quite the site you see here on this picture. It’s a pretty amazing statement to say zero injuries and zero accidents on this site for so far.”

Benson stated that 175 people responded to the incident. “It’s pretty amazing a lot of those individuals come from the local communities.” He stated that soon a salvage operation would be underway.

“We are going to continue operation,” Benson stated. “The emergency response team is here to stay until the job is done. We will have rotations in and out. We were here on the ground responding with our local agencies within 24 hours.

“Our first priority is the safety of the people.

“We apologize for the inconvenience of the truck traffic. When we start to remove these operations, there will be more truck traffic.”

Dr. Mike Berg, a toxicologist from the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health then responded. “I want to point out on the front end. We are hired and brought in by Statoil. We are working through them and working with both the state and federal EPA to develop work plans to go out and do air monitoring and air sampling, along with water, soil, and sediment.”

“I will share a few numbers with you, but I encourage you after this brief talk to find myself or a colleague, and we are more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

“Our company responds and has been responding to incidents for years, and we develop systems that work and keep everybody safe throughout the response process, to start out I’m going to give a brief overview.”

Berg explained the different types of air monitoring equipment that can be used. He stated that air monitoring “instantly provides results to scientists to take corrective action, if necessary, to minimize the potential for overexposure to chemicals.”

He stated that someone can carry a hand-held instrument along with them “and it performs the analysis right in the instrument, and it allows us to make rapid decisions. If we come onto a site and detect chemicals or compounds in the air, we can take some kind of protective action.”

Berg further explained other equipment, including instruments that can be put into place where people cannot be for a long period of time, along with equipment that detects levels of general compounds.

Berg stated that to date, over 2,300 hand-held readings and over 300,000 remote-telemetering readings have been collected within the work-site and adjacent community.” Berg stated that no detections of volatile organic compounds, acid gases and/or carbon monoxide has been observed in the community using air-monitoring instruments. Berg stated elevated particulate matter levels were detected within the work-site level.

“Of articulate importance here is at the duration of the response, very few detections of volatile organize compounds. Of 2,300 hand-held readings, we’ve had five detections, the highest being at 0.6 parts per million.

Berg explained that the benefit of air sampling is that the actual analysis “is not done by our group on site. It’s done by another independent organization and allows us to look at lower levels for a variety of chemicals.”

Berg stated that an air sample was collected in the downwind of the smoke from the fire and few VOCs were detected at very low levels. Berg stated that these VOCs would not pose human health risk for short-term exposure. Air sampling in the smoke plume showed that volatile organic compounds were detected directly within the smoke plume and “did not present an acute health hazard.”

Berg stated that air sampling began at the site on June 29 and to date “over 50 air samples have been collected for a suite of volatile organic compounds, pllyaromatic hydrocarbons, sulphur dioxide, and silica.” Berg stated that a single detection of napthlatene has been observed “at a level that would not pose a risk to human health.”

He stated that three volatile organic compounds have been detected at hundreds of times lower than applicable exposure guidelines.”

Berg then moved on to discussion of fish clean-up operations. “There was an incident involving fish here in the vicinity of the response,” he noted. “We’ve instigated a program to pick up those fish, and we went through and speciated-how many species, the size and how many were present.”

Berg stated that 76 percent of organisms picked up were fish, 24 percent were crawfish, and “we did have a few frogs and salamanders in the mix.” He added that four species were game fish, and the number of those species were low. “A large majority of fish that were collected during this operation were minnows, darters, and very, very small living organisms.” Berg noted that fish have returned into the area and that “we’ve not noticed any evidence of ongoing issues or new fish kills.”

Also, Berg noted that over 300 surface water, soil, and sediment samples have been collected “from over 90 locations around the well pad and along the tributary, Opposum Creek and the Ohio River.”

Berg said the samples are being analyzed by a third party, Ohio accredited, lab for a wide variety of volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, as well as general water chemistry. He stated that multiple compounds were detected in run-off from the well pad, “These have not been detected in the nearby tributaries or Opposum Creek.” He added that ongoing monitoring indicates no impact on the Ohio River.

“Fish have returned to Opposum Creek, and water quality parameters are in the normal range.”

Berg remarked that environmental sampling will continue “until response operations are complete.”

It was noted that before Statoil drills a well, they go and test the water wells out to 5,000 feet around the site. “In this particular circumstance, we are going to test them again. This particular creek, Opposum Creek, does not serve water wells, but of course people will send the reports and we will get them, so we can make absolutely sure.”

Furthermore, environmental work is expected to continue for some period of time until Statoil and the state and federal authorities “are very clear and understand that everything is back to normal.”