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Elk River in Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia.

Braxton spill didn’t reach Elk River, DEP says

Ken Ward Jr. | Charleston Gazette

State Department of Environmental Protection officials said Friday that they don’t believe any natural gas drilling waste from a truck that wrecked in Braxton County on Thursday made it into the Elk River.

The incident occurred at about 4:15 p.m. and involved a waste truck operated by Spirit Services, the same company that had an explosion last month at its waste-handling facility in Nitro, said DEP spokeswoman Kelley Gillenwater.

Gillenwater said that the truck went through a guardrail on Interstate 79 and over an embankment near Frametown. The driver sustained some bruises and needed stitches, but DEP was told the injuries did not appear serious, Gillenwater said.

The truck was hauling about 4,500 gallons of “condensate” from a natural gas drilling site, Gillenwater said. Typically, condensate is a mix of water and hydrocarbons from oil and gas production operations. In this instance, Gillenwater said, Spirit Services told DEP that the material was from a “dehydration unit,” that removes the condensate from natural gas and distills it before transportation.

Gillenwater said the tanker was punctured in the wreck. Most of the material spilled and “was in danger of entering a tributary of the Elk River.” Gillenwater said that, as a precaution, water utilities downstream with intakes on the Elk, including Clay, Procious and West Virginia American Water, were notified.

A DEP inspector at the site reported that he doesn’t believe any of the material reached the stream. Material that didn’t spill was removed from the truck.

On Friday, officials were planning to remove the wreckage and begin cleaning up soil where the spill occurred, Gillenwater said. The truck spilled about 80 gallons of diesel fuel along with its cargo, but that was also contained at the site, she said.

On Aug. 6, failed valves on two Spirit Services chemical storage tanks caused an explosion at the company’s Nitro industrial waste handling facility. No one was injured, and an oil leak was contained within the operation’s spill-collection system.


Related: Coast Guard: We can’t adequately respond to Great Lakes heavy oil spill


Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kward@wvgazette.com, 304-348-1702 or follow @kenwardjr on Twitter.


(c)2014 The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, W.Va.)

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