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Pine Grove Water Is Now Okay For Use

By Staff | Feb 23, 2016

A water conservation order for the town of Pine Grove has now been lifted, following a Tuesday afternoon conference call. This news comes from the “Town of Pine Grove” Facebook page, operated by council.

Residents were advised that there was nothing they needed to do prior to using the water.

MarkWest Energy Partners, via a Tuesday afternoon press release, reported that they had received results of fourteen additional water samples. These samples were taken from 11 homes and businesses, including Valley High School. Each of the 11 samples tested negative for heat transfer oils. Three samples from North Fork of Fishing Creek demonstrated reduced levels of the product, consistent with ongoing clean-up efforts.

MarkWest reported that in coordination with Pine Grove Water Works, 90,000 gallons of potable water was delivered to holding tanks that were not impacted by the event. MarkWest will continue to provide water until sample results have determined that the Fishing Creek water supply can resume inflow to the treatment plant and the impacted reserve feed tank has been flushed, tested, inspected and approved.

The water conservation order followed a spill of heat transfer oil that occurred Saturday, Feb. 20 at MarkWest Energy Partners’ Mobley plant.

A broad set of additional local water samples were drawn Sunday and Monday after initial sampling revealed that while heat transfer oil did reach the inlet of Pine Grove fresh water treatment facility, the oil was contained within the facility and did not enter the public drinking water.

The heat transfer oil spill at MarkWest Energy Partners’ plant in Mobley, W.Va. was observed at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20 by MarkWest Energy personnel.

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Kelly J. Gillenwater stated to the Chronicle on Monday, Feb. 22 that MarkWest officials had previously estimated that 10,000 gallons of oil had been released at the facility. However, she stated that the company had since changed its estimation to 3,000 gallons.

MarkWest has stated that it is working with environmental professionals and has deployed protective booms in Fishing Creek at a number of locations.

The Pine Grove Water Works water intake located downstream from the release site was closed by local officials on Saturday after the spill was discovered. MarkWest activated its spill response plan and began supplying the town with bottled water, for residents to pick up at the Byrd Center, as needed.

MarkWest noted that an investigation was underway on the cause of the release, but its singular focus was “making sure our neighbors in Pine Grove have a source of clean water and the heat transfer oil is fully cleaned up from the North Fork of Fishing Creek.

At 8:30 p.m., Feb. 20, MarkWest had released a statement, reporting that it had deployed more than 75 employees and contractors to Pine Grove for spill response, distribution of bottled water at The Byrd Center and to provide assistance in the door-to-door notification of each of the 360 households in the community about the event.

A later statement noted that the following additional equipment has been provided: 10 booms deployed between the release location and the Pine Grove Water Works water intake; six vacuum trucks; 75 MarkWest personnel and contractors; three trucks of water thus far one tractor-trailer, and two flat beds.

After Saturday’s spill, Pine Grove officials notified each resident via their reverse 9-1-1 system of a water conservation advisory, asking residents to only use water for sanitation purposes (i.e. flushing the toilet).

Several officials have given statements on the spill and subsequent response.

Pine Grove Mayor Roy Justice noted that MarkWest has went “above and beyond” with its response. “They are stepping up and doing everything possible,” he noted. “You couldn’t ask for a better company. They are fantastic.”

Tuesday morning, at the Wetzel County Commission meeting, Commission President Larry Lemon stated that the commission hoped the “problem has been identified and resolved and water ser vice will be restored soon.”

“We hope that all the residents who need water are getting water,” he noted.

“I think it is great MarkWest jumped in and took care of the problem they created,” Commision Vice President Bob Gorby added.

Commissioner Don Mason stated that it was good to give credit to first responders.

“Our county’s Office of Emergency Management did a good job getting out to Pine Grove immediately, monitoring the situation, and taking care of the residents’ needs in that area,” he said.

West Virginia Delegate Dave Pethtel provided the following statement: “It is unfortunate that there was an inadvertent heat transfer oil release. However, sometimes industrial accidents happen. I am pleased that Mark West Energy Partners are working with regulatory agencies, local government officials, at the town and county level, to lead and coordinate environmental remediation efforts.”