Powhatan Point Well Pad Evacuees Return Home

Heavy rain continues to stall the efforts to cap a well at XTO Energy’s Schnegg well pad near Captina Creek, the site of an explosion on Feb. 15, but the majority of the evacuees have returned home.

“We’re still working. Obviously the weather has been a factor slowing us down. We’re still trying to move that big crane. We want to do that very carefully because it’s near a well that had been producing before the master valve was shut after the incident,” XTO spokeswoman Karen Matusic said. “Weather forecasts are continued rain. Its supposed to get even heavier tomorrow I’ve heard …We’re still working even though it’s raining, but there’s access roads. We have to be careful everything is still safe and secure. A couple times the working crew has been pulled off the pad by emergency responders.”

Matusic said the process involves using the access roads to remove debris and heavy equipment. The high winds and rain may impact safety of the access roads.

“Those roads, even before rain, were tough. They’re rural roads,” she said.

Matusic said the pad had four wells, and the well that had the blowout was not yet in production.

“There were three other wells in production, but the minute the incident happened, they turned off the master valve to stop those other three wells,” she said. “But when the crane fell, it fell near one of the wells that had been producing before it was shut off, so now we have to move that crane. We have to be very careful of the way it’s positioned.”

She also said the majority of the people evacuated from the outer half mile around the pad site have returned home. Matusic added that XTO has purchased generators to provide power to those who needed them in the event of power disruption. The company has also pledged to replace food and refrigeration units lost in power outtages.

About 100 people from 30 homes within a mile of the pad site were evacuated after the incident. The evacuation zone has since been reduced to a half mile, which includes four homes that had been occupied at the time. Evacuees from the homes in the outer half mile accompanied teams to their residences to check the air quality.

The evacuees had been housed at XTO’s expense at four hotels at St. Clairsville, Moundsville and Wheeling.

“There are just a handful of folks who were cleared, who have not returned to their house,” she said.

Residents have also been escorted to feed their livestock through the response process.

Any local residents who may have been impacted by this incident are encouraged to call XTO Energy’s claims phone number at 855-351-6573 or visit XTO Energy’s community response command center at the Powhatan Point Volunteer Fire Department, located at 104 Mellott St. XTO representatives and claims adjusters are on site to help meet the community’s needs.