MIDDLE GRAVE CREEK, W.Va. — Residents living near the Williams Energy Oak Grove plant construction site in Marshall County were awakened by an explosion Saturday morning. A 12-inch natural gas line running near the plant ruptured at just after 8 a.m.
“It was a very loud explosion. I got up and looked out the window. It sounded like a plane, like a jet engine liner was going over the top of my house,” Fork Ridge Road resident Roger Dobbs told MetroNews Saturday. “I looked out the back window and you could see the smoke flying high in the sky and the flames going up.”
The site is about a mile from Dobbs’ home. The line is owned by a subsidiary of Williams, LP and carries unprocessed natural gas from production wells according to a statement from the company.
Emergency officials initially believed the rupture may have been caused by a mudslide. The line was isolated and the fire was brought under control with an hour of the blast. There were no injuries. Residents living along Middle Grave Creek and Waymans Ridge were asked to evacuate their homes. Fire stations in Glen Dale and Cameron were opened as shelters.
Dobbs said there has been a lot of rain in recent days but something else may have contributed to the rupture.
“There’s a lot of subsidence here. A lot of mining went on in this area, longwalling,” he said.
The Oak Grove plant has been under construction for several months. That’s the same location where a 510,000 pound, 41-yard-long de-ethanizer was transported last week. The superload stalled traffic during its transport. Williams Energy will eventually refine ethane from natural gas coming out of the Marcellus and Utica shales at the plant.
The Marshall County economy has benefited from the Marcellus shale play but Dobbs admits it comes with a cost.
“It’s very stressful and then have stuff like this in your backyard going on,” he said. “I don’t know what the chemicals are that burned off. What’s in the air? Is that going to bother us? I don’t know.”
Dobbs said he was thankful there were no injuries. He said it will be a sound he never forgets.
“It was just a loud thrust—amazing,” he said.
Williams Energy said the fire caused no damage to third-party property. The company did begin to drain a 4-inch natural gas liquids pipeline in the same right of way as a precautionary measure. Company officials praised Marshall County first responders for their work at the scene.