DEP Fines Huntley & Huntley Inc. for July 23 Tank Explosion

Oct 26, 2010, 13:50 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Company Agrees to Improve Operational, Safety Practices

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Environmental Protection has imposed a $32,000 penalty against Huntley & Huntley Inc. of Monroeville, Allegheny County, stemming from a July 23 tank explosion at a gas well site in which two people died.

The civil penalty is part of a consent order and agreement to resolve violations of the Oil and Gas Act and the Solid Waste Management Act.

An oil storage tank at the company's Murray Heirs #6 gas well site, located in Indiana Township, Allegheny County, exploded on July 23, releasing small amounts of oil and other liquids and causing the well head and nearby production facilities to catch fire. The tank that exploded was propelled into the air, landing about 150 feet away from the well head.

Killed were two employees of Northeast Energy Management Inc. of Indiana, Indiana County, who were performing welding repairs on the 210-barrel oil storage tank. Northeast Energy Management was under contract to perform the repairs.

"Companies that own and operate oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania have an obligation to ensure those sites function properly and have a minimal impact on the environment," DEP Secretary John Hanger said. "The explosion destroyed the production equipment, damaged the well head, ignited a fire, caused a release of small amounts of brine and oil on the ground in the well containment area and posed a threat to our natural resources and the public.

"This was a tragic situation and no action we can take will undo the events of that day," Hanger added. "We need to do everything we can, though, to prevent such situations from happening again."

Hanger said Huntley & Huntley led a prompt and effective emergency response by marshalling local fire, emergency management and industry response teams to the scene and flying in a specialty well control company from Texas the day of the accident. These actions, he said, helped to limit the environmental impact of the explosion and return the site to a safe condition.

The shallow well has produced mostly oil and some gas since 2008.

Huntley & Huntley also agreed to take appropriate measures to ensure that, prior to performing any welding repair work on a tank located within 100 feet of the company's oil and gas well heads, company employees or contractors will observe special safety measures by disconnecting the tank from the well, draining the tank of all liquids, purging the tank of all combustible gases, testing the tank with a calibrated lower explosives limit meter and recording the readings.

For more information, visit or call 412-442-4000.

Media contact: Katy Gresh, 412-442-4203

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection