DEP says residents not exposed to harmful air pollution during Chevron well fire
Nearby residents and emergency crews that responded to a February explosion at a natural gas well site in southwest Pennsylvania were not exposed to harmful air pollution, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
In a report released Wednesday, the department said it collected air samples near the Chevron well site in Dunkard Township, Greene County for nine days after the fire started. The samples were analyzed for 57 pollutants and the DEP detected elevated levels of only three chemicals: heptane, trimethylbenzene and propane — none of which were found to pose a public health hazard. More from the DEP’s press release:
Heptane often comes from crude oil and is used in paints and solvents; 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene is usually found in coal tar or oil; and the higher concentrations of propane are believed to have come from nearby storage tanks.
Air monitoring began on Feb. 12, the day after the fire started, and lasted until Feb. 20 when the first of two wells involved in the fire had been capped. A DEP report released in March also concluded that residents were not exposed to harmful levels of radiation as a result of the fire.
The DEP has filed nine notices of violation against Chevron for the explosion that killed 27-year-old Ian McKee, a contract worker on the site. The department has also alleged that Chevron officials blocked access to DEP’s trained emergency responders for nearly two days. Officials have said it would not affect the department’s investigation. A detailed after-action report on the incident is expected next month.