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Index > United States of America > Pennsylvania > Monitoring & Protective Casing plans for Vandergrift gas well

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


06/25/2008 PITTSBURGH – The Department of Environmental Protection has approved two plans that are designed to protect the residents of a Westmoreland County community from stray methane gas from what is believed to be an old, abandoned well in Vandergrift.

The monitoring plan and a protective casing plan approved by DEP apply to a gas well drilled by Gas and Oil Co. LLC on Ninth Street in Vandergrift. Activity at the well in May resulted in gas migrating through the soil to a residential area of East Vandergrift.

DEP had made reactivation of the well contingent upon the development and implementation of the monitoring and protective casing plans.

“The approval to reactivate the well was given only after we were confident that the necessary measures to protect the public had been put in place,” said DEP’s Southwest Regional Director Kenneth Bowman.

 “To guarantee the public safety, the monitoring plan we approved requires the company to cease production if we find evidence of sustained gas concentrations. If that happens, Gas and Oil Co. must permanently plug and abandon the well.”

On May 21, Gas and Oil Co. fractured several geologic rock formations 3,500 feet below the ground to extract the methane gas it contained.

DEP believes this fracturing affected an old buried abandoned well and allowed gas to escape and make its way through to the surface.

The company reported the problem to DEP, which then assessed conditions at the well and monitored the soil and fill material.

The agency found high concentrations of stray methane gas along Foundry Street near the intersection of McKinley Street.

No gas was detected in any of the homes.

To stop the gas migration, DEP required the company to “kill the well,” a process whereby the well is filled with a saltwater solution to prevent gas from leaving the rock formations and entering the well.

Currently, gas concentrations have not been detected at all monitoring points and there is no longer residual gas in the soils from the initial incident.

As required by the monitoring plan, Gas and Oil Co. has installed methane alarms in the seven homes nearest the area where stray gas was detected in May.

Additionally, the company will monitor for stray gas at 10 DEP-designated locations, and the department will then evaluate that data.

The company will also immediately report to DEP any combustible gas detected at concentrations of 2 percent or greater.

DEP will monitor conditions separately to ascertain the company’s results.

Before returning the well to production, the company will install additional protective casing to close off the area where gas was migrating from the suspected abandoned well.

Casing is the pipe installed at various depths to guide gas to the surface and prevent migration away from the well.

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