Thursday, July 10, 2014

Electronics blamed for facility shutdown

February 19. 2013 11:03PM
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A failed circuit board appears to have caused an emergency shutdown of a PVR Partners natural gas compressor station in Washington Township, Wyoming County, Wednesday evening, a company spokesman said.

Stephen R. Milbourne, director of investor relations for PVR Partners, said Thursday a circuit board failure on a station monitoring device triggered an automatic shutdown and vented gas at the Hirkey compressor station for safety between 7 and 8 p.m.

Area emergency responders and the company both responded to the shutdown, though there was never any danger to the public, Milbourne said. The board was replaced and the station re-entered service at approximately 9 p.m., he said.

Milbourne was unaware whether the station emitted a noise during the incident, but said typically venting gas causes a sound. During two previous shutdowns and gas blow-offs at a PVR dehydration station in Monroe Township, Wyoming County, neighboring residents reported hearing a loud sound like a jet engine.

The compressor station is part of PVR's 30-mile Wyoming Pipeline, which runs from northwestern Wyoming County to Dallas Township, where it connects with the TransCo Pipeline near Hildebrandt Road.

The shutdown is the third in several months of a PVR gas transportation facility in Wyoming County, following emergency shutdowns of a Monroe Township dehydration station along the same pipeline in September and November.

Emergency response officials during a Dec. 14 inquiry into the Monroe Township shutdowns noted communications problems during response to those incidents, including 911 dispatchers lacking emergency contact numbers from PVR and a failure to notify the Wyoming County Emergency Management Agency. Officials said then they had met with PVR to clarify procedures and were working with the company to develop an inter-agency emergency response plan for the station.

Milbourne said the company notified emergency responders immediately during Wednesday's incident.

Colleen Connolly, spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection's Northeast Regional Office, said the company notified DEP about an hour after the incident. The department did not respond to the scene but is seeking measurements from the company of the volume of gas released.

Neither DEP nor the company measured methane levels in the air, but the department does not believe those levels presented a danger to anyone nearby.

Connolly added that DEP also met with PVR representatives this week about improving communications between the company, DEP and the Wyoming County Emergency Management Agency.

Last night's quick communication indicates to DEP that they're working towards improving that communication, said Connolly. They're very open to developing an emergency operations plan to share with EMA and 911 and DEP.

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