XTO Natural Gas Well in Powhatan Point Remains Uncapped

Many of the residents who were evacuated from their homes after an explosion a week ago at the XTO Energy Schnegg well pad near Captina Creek are now permitted to return home, but they are delaying moving back to their homes until the well is capped.

When the explosion occurred Feb. 15, close to 100 people were evacuated from 30 homes within a 1-mile radius of the pad. XTO housed them at four hotels in Wheeling, Moundsville and St. Clairsville. XTO spokeswoman Karen Matusic added that the evacuation zone has been reduced from 1 mile around the site to 1/2 mile; that means only four homes that were occupied and one that was unoccupied remain within the mandatory evacuation zone.

“They’ve all been cleared to go back, but until the well is capped all of them have opted to stay out of their homes and not spend the night there. They’ve all been back to their homes. We’ve taken meter readings of the air. Everything’s fine,” Matusic said of residents whose homes lie in the outer half-mile. “They’ve all been back to do the inspection, but they’ve just decided they would prefer to stay out until the well is capped.”

Matusic added that electrical power has been restored to the area, and XTO is also offering to replace appliance losses that occurred during the outage.

“The power was restored (Tuesday). They power’s been out because of the flooding,” she said. “A lot of their refrigerators and freezers were off, so we’re going to be replacing all those refrigerators and freezers for anyone who wants us to, and also pay for the food that they might have lost.”

There still is no timetable for when the inner half-mile radius will be clear for occupation. As of Wednesday evening, there also was no timetable for capping the well.

“The well has not been capped. They’re still working on clearing the area. On the pad, there’s a big crane, so until they clear that they won’t actually be able to go in and do anything with the well,” she said, adding that the team on site has been hard at work since the weather broke Sunday. “The weather’s been on our side the last few days. It’s enabled us to do a lot of work, a lot of clearing there. We’re going to be taking into consideration road conditions, wind conditions, air monitoring.”

At the moment, crews working on the pad are proceeding with caution as they work to clear the damaged crane away.

“It’s a big piece of equipment, obviously,” Matusic said. “It’s laying in the way of getting to what we need to do for the well.”

XTO hired Cudd Energy Services to get control of the leak and cap the well.

Matusic said XTO will continue to compensate residents who have been impacted by the accident.

“We’re very, very sorry that folks are still not back in their homes. We encourage them to call the claims line or stop by the community center and we’ll answer any of the their questions and pay them back for anything that they’ve lost during this time that they’re out of their houses.”

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 Street.

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