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Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120

DEP Successfully Vents Abandoned Well in Versailles;
Family Allowed to Return Home in time for Christmas

13 December 2011 PITTSBURGH Pennsylvania – The Department of Environmental Protection reported today that after three weeks of monitoring a Versailles Borough home where DEP vented an abandoned gas well, Equitable Gas has restored gas and electric service, enabling the residents to return.

In October, DEP successfully installed four gas mitigation systems in Versailles over a three week period. Progress was slowed when the department encountered a clogged, deteriorated vent that was located only one foot from a home on Second Street.

That clogged vent was found to be the cause of other stray gas issues in the borough.

Before the vent was restored, methane gas was prevented from escaping and instead, migrated through the soil to five contiguous properties and at least one other property in the vicinity.

“DEP had to overcome many challenges when restoring the vent to the abandoned well, including the proximity of the house to the well and unforeseen technical complications,” said Kenneth Bowman, DEP’s southwest regional director.

"We are genuinely pleased that the family will be able to celebrate the holiday season in their home.”

DEP continues to monitor the area, including a property near to the vented abandoned gas well where stray gas has been detected at various concentrations in the shallow soil.

DEP currently is evaluating whether this gas is residual from the blocked abandoned gas well, or if it represents a new source.

Stray methane gas was detected in late August by Equitable Gas during a routine check of its gas lines.

The utilities shut off gas and electric service to the house in order to eliminate any potential for ignition.

The affected family was able to move, temporarily, to the house next door, but because of the potential danger associated with the heavy equipment needed to vent the well in the yard between the two homes, DEP provided alternative housing to the family while work was under way.

The family returned to the interim home on Nov. 12.

On Dec. 6, DEP met with Versailles Borough Council and staff members of state and federal elected officials to hear the National Energy and Technology Laboratory present its methane emissions report, which identified 12 potential well sites where stray methane gas had been detected within the pore spaces of the soil near to the surface.

DEP recommends that the 12 sites be evaluated, prioritized and vented in the order of potential risk, using criteria such as gas concentration and proximity to residences.

Cost estimates associated with this range from $15,000 to $65,000 per location, depending on the complexity of the site.

DEP has committed its technical support and to work with Versailles Borough and state and federal elected officials to identify appropriate funding sources.






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