COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
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
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
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
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
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.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA