Tag Archives: Robert McHale

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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