Second Phase of Natrium Blue Racer Plant Nearly Complete

KENT – Despite very cold working conditions throughout the winter, construction to double the natural gas processing capacity at the Blue Racer Midstream Natrium plant in Marshall County is nearly complete.

Dominion Resources developed the Natrium plant and the full-time workers at Natrium are considered Dominion employees. However, Blue Racer now owns the facility as part of a $1.5 billion deal between Dominion and Caiman Energy. Following a Marshall County Energy Exploration Task Force meeting this week, Robert C. Orndorff Jr., managing director of state and local affairs for Dominion, said the second portion of the Blue Racer facility is nearly finished.

Centrally located in the heart of the Marcellus and Utica shale regions, the plant will grow its processing capacity from 200 million cubic feet per day to 400 million cubic feet per day. The Natrium plant is a key piece of the Blue Racer network, which includes nearly 600 miles of pipelines across 24 counties in Ohio and West Virginia.

The original portion of the Blue Racer plant reopened in January after it was closed as a result of a Sept. 21 fire. W.Va. 2 near the Marshall and Wetzel county line was closed for nearly eight hours as the fire burned. About 25 residents in the Kent area north of the plant were evacuated as a safety precaution. The fire eventually burned itself out.

Blue Racer spokeswoman Casey Nikoloric said the Sept. 21 fire occurred when vapors formed a cloud that was “ignited by an unknown source.”

“Our central focus has been on preventing the release of natural gas vapors in the future. Certain equipment damaged in the incident has been replaced, repaired or upgraded, additional safety measures have been added, including the new alarm system, and employees at the facility have been given additional training on how to handle emergency situations,” she said.

Activated in January, the new alarm system is one of Blue Racer’s safety measures. Marshall County Emergency Managements Director Tom Hart said officials with the company also met with some Kent residents recently to discuss some concerns.

“There were several concerns that did not really involve the plant,” Hart said, adding Blue Racer allowed residents to use one of the company’s buildings to hold the meeting.