Emily Bacha, Communications Director, February 15, 2020
February 15, 2020 marks the two-year anniversary of the Belmont County Powhatan Point wellpad explosion, which resulted in one of the largest-ever methane leaks in the country. Over 60,000 tons of methane were released into the atmosphere until the well could be plugged three weeks later.
Although the immediate problem was eventually fixed, the event displaced families from their community and polluted the air, creating ongoing health and safety concerns. Residents complained of health issues including eye, nose, and throat irritation, dizziness, ringing in ears, and breathing problems severe enough that children needed medical treatment. Today, many residents live in fear that an explosion or a blowout could happen again. Some children even have evacuation bags packed and ready to go.
Wellpad explosions are rare, but very dangerous. Southeast Ohio continues to see expansion of oil and gas operations, and with added facilities comes increased risks.
Methane emissions from oil and gas operations are, unfortunately, not rare. But they are dangerous. Methane emissions pose a constant threat to Ohioans’ health and exacerbate climate change.