A considerable amount of natural gas and crude oil residue blew out of a pipeline when a valve broke in Lafayette Township on Saturday afternoon.
Around noon, passersby on U.S. Route 219 reported the spill, visible from the highway shooting about 60 feet in the air out of a pipe, according to fire chief Don Fowler of the Lafayette Township Volunteer Fire Department.
According to Fowler, the spill mainly involved a great deal of natural gas blowing off into the atmosphere for about three hours.
The pipeline is owned by Atlas Energy, which has a local office in Mayville, N.Y.
Fowler said the natural gas was blasting into the air with crude residue and drip gas residue, and the wind was blowing it across the highway.
“That’s why we had to close the road off,” he said. “This stuff was really slippery.”
McKean County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Jerry Rettger told The Era on Sunday that it was a “considerable amount,” but he had no way of telling exactly how much.
Product blew out of the pipe for approximately three hours, according to Fowler.
Both men said it was accidental in nature and resulted from a failure of a valve on the pipeline.
Route 219 was shut down between Lewis Run and Tack’s Inn for about four and a half hours, while Minard Run Oil Co. workers along with other oil and gas industry professionals, worked to repair the valve and while cleanup took place on the roadway.
Members of the Lewis Run Volunteer Fire Department handled traffic control, according to Fowler.
He said Lafayette Township firefighters used absorbent materials to soak oil off of the highway; Pennsylvania Department of Transportation crews responded with sand for the road.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and McKean County EMA responded to the scene as well.
Fowler said Atlas Energy will be responsible for taking care of cleanup of the land in the area of the spill.
“The DEP is going to require some cleanup but the extent of it I cannot comment,” Rettger said, adding that nothing got into any of the nearby streams.