Tag Archives: MarkWest

MarkWest Issues Statement on Fire at Washington County Processing Plant, Evacuation

MarkWest Energy Partners has issued an emailed statement through spokesman Robert McHale – who is on scene –  regarding the fire at the Chartiers Township/Houston, Washington County, Marcellus Shale gas processing plant.

“At approximately 6:00 p.m., during severe weather conditions, MarkWest¹s Houston facility was struck by lightning. All employees and contractors are accounted for and there are no reported injuries. The facility will remain shut down until a thorough inspection is completed.

MarkWest has highly trained personnel on-site working with first responders and will continue to monitor the situation.

First responders have secured a perimeter and out of an abundance of caution, several residents have relocated to a local community center.

MarkWest has an employee at this location and will  work with these residents to ensure that accommodations are made until they can return to their homes.

We thank the first responders for their professionalism and will provide updates as more information becomes available.”

Editor’s Note: The Observer-Reporter and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette both reported that those evacuated were told they could return to their homes just before 10 p.m. Wednesday. To read the OR’s report, click here. To read the PG’s report, click here.

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MarkWest Mum on Flames from Compressor Station (And Why It Requested Power There Be Shut Off)


Residents who live near a MarkWest compressor station in Chartiers Township, Washington County, reported seeing flames from the facility early Friday morning, but while more than 12 hours has elapsed since the first sighting, the midstream Marcellus Shale company has stayed mum on the cause.

I’m not seeing any statement/story in any of the local media sources.

However, state Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, posted twice about the flames on his Facebook page Friday, posting video and pictures from those who live nearby.

What he found interesting? Here’s an excerpt from one of the legislator’s status updates:

After the noise was heard around 4 AM, MarkWest called the county 911 dispatcher and said they were flaring- after it had already started.

When asked by the press, a DEP spokesman also said it was just flaring. But what neither MarkWest or the DEP told anyone was that MarkWest had called West Penn Power and told them to shut off the power coming into the processing facility for reasons unknown; this was confirmed to me personally by West Penn. The power is still off, and the flaring is still going on; this picture was sent to me moments ago.

White then asked, “Does it seem odd to anyone else that they would need to have the power shut off for over 12 hours now if it was just a ‘typical 4 AM flaring?’ And why didn’t MarkWest or DEP say anything about the power needing to be shut off?”

As a reporter whose covered this company for years?

What seems oddest to me is the crickets chirping over there at MarkWest.

Last summer, I broke a story about plumes of thick, black smoke billowing from the compressor station that could be seen from miles and miles away.

When I called MarkWest then, spokesman Robert McHale took my phone call and then followed up with an emailed statement from the company explaining the incident and reiterating that the public was never at risk. The DEP also issued a statement indicating that an inspector was on scene and that the department was looking into the matter.

This evening, in an attempt to get a better understanding of what is going on at the site, I called McHale and left a message. I also emailed Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, who was able to provide information related to the smoke when I was unable to immediately get the info from MarkWest.

Neither the after-hours phone call nor the email was immediately returned.

Because while I have many questions, the one I keep asking myself is this: If there is nothing wrong, and considering this plant has been in the media spotlight for unflattering reasons previously, why hasn’t a statement been issued?

Editor’s Note: If you have photos or video of the “flare” or have any other info, please feel free to email me at marcellusmonitor_editor@yahoo.com. Also: If you’re on Facebook, get our updates in your news feed by “liking” us. Click here to access the page.

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From the Editor: Welcome to Marcellus Monitor


I can’t stand a bully. Never could.

And in 10 years working as a journalist in the Pittsburgh region, bullying may have been a topic of feature stories, but never really a part of my everyday working life.

Until I started writing about the Marcellus Shale.

I should clarify that: I was on great working terms with many in the shale industry when I was writing feature stories singing its praises. There were check presentations. There were outreach meetings when drilling activities commenced. There was even a story about Southpointe-based Range Resources employees buying a pig for $36,000 to help a local 4H student at the Washington County County Fair.

When I was laid off from my reporting position at the Observer-Reporter newspaper in Washington, Range’s controversial spokesman, Matt Pitzarella even endorsed me on LinkedIn, calling me a fair reporter.

But that all changed shortly after I became the editor of the Canon-McMillan Patch website, which published news from Canonsburg, Cecil and North Strabane (and for the record, Pitzarella deleted his endorsement sometime during my tenure there).

Pitzarella and fellow Range spin doctors Jim Cannon and Mike Mackin were initially very supportive of my reporting efforts (Cecil Township was one of the areas where drilling activity was brisk, and I covered those issues religiously). I even met with them at the corporate headquarters, where they tried to plant a story about Cecil’s solicitor.

Cannon and Mackin suggested I write a story about how that solicitor, John Smith, was running up legal bills related to Cecil Township and his review of shale-related issues. They even gave me the legal bills they had garnered from the township through a state Right to Know request.

I looked at the bills, and I passed on the story.

Because to me, it wasn’t “a story.” It was an attempt to get a reporter to write a propaganda piece.

Shortly after that meeting, Cecil became the epicenter of local shale issues.

And as I chased after stories that increasingly made Range Resources, MarkWest and other players in the shale industry look like something less than community benefactors, I noticed that my phone calls were increasingly ignored.

By the end of my tenure at Patch (I was furloughed in August), I had not received a phone call from Range Resources, specifically, for months.

More disturbing were reports I was hearing from other reporter friends also covering the industry. One reporter even confirmed that a story that was not complimentary to the shale industry was spiked at the behest of top industry brass.

Then there was all the propaganda.

After breaking a story about issues Cecil Towship officials and residents were having with a frac pond known as the Worstell impoundment, an industry-funded website that sells itself as a “news” site about shale issues, took aim at me and sources that helped me understand the issues I wrote about.

Around that same time (in the midst of Cecil and other communities challenging the state’s newly passed legislation governing Marcellus Shale activity called Act 13), I noticed that propaganda “informational” packets were being left at local meetings.

There was also a deluge of commenters on my former site who bullied readers who asked questions or who were critical of the shale industry.

Then there was the upheaval in Cecil as its supervisors fought over secret meetings with Range Resources, and a closed-door meeting with the Department of Environmental Protection – all related to the impoundment.

Since my departure from Patch in August, I have stayed close with my sources, and have learned of so many issues that, unfortunately, are not given much (if any) ink in the local press.

That’s why I created Marcellus Monitor: Because I think you deserve more reporting than you are getting.

And I assure you: I will not be bullied.

Here, you will find original reporting, informational features and aggregated content from around the web.

And I invite you and your friends to contribute, too. If you’d like to contribute a column, a letter to the editor, or a story, please email me at marcellusmonitor_editor@yahoo.com. Also, please join us on Facebook here.

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