MarkWest offers reasons for fish kill

LITTLETON – A “major landslide” caused a MarkWest Energy pipeline in Wetzel County to leak, the company said Wednesday. The leak spilled natural gas liquids into Rocky Run, leading to a fish kill.

MarkWest Energy officials said in a prepared statement they are repairing the 10-inch, 27-mile pipeline that connects natural gas processing facilities in Marshall and Wetzel counties.

“Initial indications are that the landslide originated from significant erosion and runoff from recent heavy rainfall and impacted the right of way,” said MarkWest spokesman Robert McHale, regarding the rupture of the line that connects the company’s Mobley and Majorsville sites. “No one was injured.”

The leak occurred last week.

While there were no human injuries, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources District 1 fishery biologist Frank Jernejcic said minnows, smallmouth bass and other species of fish died in Rocky Run, a tributary of Fish Creek, from the spill. He said the DNR will use the wildlife composition of a comparable “reference stream” to estimate the number of dead fish in Rocky Run.

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

“MarkWest is undertaking repair and remediation efforts and working with local, state and federal officials to respond to and investigate this incident,” McHale said.

Cosco said the spill involved “wet gas” or a “liquid gas” and that many natural gas liquids – byproducts of natural gas drilling such as propane, ethane, butane, pentanes and others – can vaporize when their liquid forms come in contact with water.