Minor Spill at Compressor Site Contaminates Flood Waters

Date 2015/6/23 6:20:00 | Topic: Local News, Notes and Events

By Steve Southwell

A small amount of engine oil from a natural gas compressor station has been picked up by flood waters in Lewisville, according to Lewisville Fire Marshall Tim Ippolito, who also serves as Lewisville’s Oil and Gas Inspector.

In aerial photos released by the Lewisville Office of Emergency Management Saturday, a hydrocarbon sheen could be seen on flood waters crossing Creekside Mobile Home Park, which is just downstream from the facilities. Upon review of the FEMA flood maps of the area, we realized that the Chesapeake Lewisville natural gas compressor station and several other gas wells and a wastewater collection facility were located within the affected area. We contacted Ippolito on Sunday, and he had already been notified of a situation that morning, and was on his way to check out the gas wells.

Chesapeake Energy owns a gas well and a compressor station in the area west of Duncan Lane, and south of Spinks. FEMA maps show most of that land within the 100 year floodplain, with the northern portion of the site in the 500 year floodplain. Trinity River Energy owns several wells and a centralized wastewater collection facility, which is shown to be in FEMA zone “X”, which is minimal flood hazard.

Ippolito said Monday that Chesapeake notified both the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the release, which the Chesapeake representative told him was “less than 20 gallons”. Ippolito said that the operator had placed diking material around the Chesapeake compressor facility and along the downstream perimeter of the site, and that they had been on-site Friday through Sunday, which was when the peak flooding occurred. When Ippolito inspected the site on Sunday, he said that he saw no visible signs of leakage, and that the facility was shut down. “While it is unfortunate that they experienced the small leak, I am satisfied that they responded appropriately and do not anticipate any further leakage,” he said. “We will monitor the situation.”

Lewisville Emergency Management Coordinator Josh Roberts said that he had noticed the sheen while in the DPS helicopter Saturday, and had asked Ippolito to check into it. “Even though nothing had been reported to us, and sheen can be caused from a number of things (algae, household chemical spillage/dislodging, etc), we still wanted to do due diligence,” said Roberts.

Neither Roberts nor Ippolito could say for sure what caused it, or where it came from. “... We cannot say with any certainty what the sheen was, let alone the exact source...,” said Ippolito. “It is certainly possible the sheen was from this leak, however it could have been from other sources in the mobile home park,” he added.

The available data for gas wells in this area of Lewisville shows that none of the wells produce any oil or condensate, both of which are lighter than water, and could cause that type of sheen if present. Numerous residents of the mobile home park did have backyard sheds, and it is quite possible that some of those had household chemicals, or fuel and lubricants for lawn equipment.

Roberts just wanted residents to be safe regardless of the source of the sheen. “Flood waters in general can be sketchy anyway, so we distributed a general "after the flood" safety bulletin,” said Roberts, noting that power is restored and residents are most likely to return home now. “We are also having our ECS staff do some sampling, just as another measure of contingency and for a matter of data collection,” he said. “Safety remains (and will always be) our number one priority!” Roberts also noted that the American Red Cross had distributed some clean-up kits to residents this past weekend.

The Lewisville Office of Emergency Management distributed a “Safety - After the Flood” flyer today (click the image at right to view) giving tips to residents returning home to the affected area. Lewisville's Emergency Information Hotline (972.219.3700) has a recorded message with the latest information.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a set of tips to protect yourself and your family upon returning home after a flood.

Full Disclosure: Steve Southwell is the Chairman of the Lewisville Oil and Gas Advisory Board, which advises the Lewisville City Council on oil and gas regulatory issues, but does not have any direct regulatory authority.

This article comes from The Lewisville Texan Journal

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