MarkWest Energy gas spill cleanup continues

WETZEL COUNTY – With an unknown number of minnows, smallmouth bass and other species of fish killed because of MarkWest Energy’s August natural gas liquids spill, cleanup of the site continues.

“The pipeline and the Mobley processing facilities will remain shut down until the pipeline remedial work is completed, which is expected to be approximately mid-October,” the Denver-based company states on its website.

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Kathy Cosco said her department cited MarkWest for “conditions not allowable in the waters of the state.”

She said it was initially difficult for officials with her office to fully examine the Rocky Run area in Northern Wetzel County where the liquid was released, noting the area was filled with “vapors.”

“The steep terrain seems to be part of the problem there,” Cosco said regarding the slip site. “They continue gathering up the contaminated soil. We know it is going to take them awhile to complete this remediation.”

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources District 1 Fishery Biologist Frank Jernejcic said an unknown number of fish died in Rocky Run, a tributary of Fish Creek, as a result of the spill. He said the exact number of dead fish likely will never be known.

Cosco said the pipeline remains out of service as MarkWest tries to move in to clean up the slip. She said the flow of Rocky Run is being pumped around the slip material, which is partially obstructing the stream channel. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved this activity.