Warren County may have far fewer unconventional gas well sites when compared to other counties across the Commonwealth, but that doesn't mean a plan shouldn't be on the books to deal with an emergency.
The Warren County Commissioners unanimously approved a Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Plan for Unconventional Well Sites submitted by Warren County Public Safety Director Todd Lake.
Lake said the plan was based on a template from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and a grant from the Hazardous Materials Emergency Planning allowed MCM Consulting Group Inc., to complete the work and make it specific to Warren County.
"At this point we only have four" unconventional gas wells in the county, Lake said.
Range Resources has two wells in Eldred and Pittsfield Township; Pennsylvania General Energy has one in Brokenstraw Township; and Hunt Marcellus Operating Co., has one in Limestone Township.
"We were able to write this plan and make it county specific," Lake said. "We know that it's there, we're able to respond to it, we have the local responders who are able to do it."
The purpose of the Unconventional Well Sites Emergency Response Plan (UWSERP) "is to coordinate the actions and resources necessary for response and/or recovery efforts essential to the remediation of conditions caused by a natural or human-caused industrial accident, medical emergency, vehicle accident, fire, hazardous materials release, explosion, or other emergency incident occurring at or in a transit to a Shale well site to protect the lives and property of citizens."
The UWSERP also states that "Local first responders will assume incident command unless a formal request is made by local officials for County personnel to assume command" and "Depending on the nature of the incident at the site, the owner/operator may have agreements in place to handle specific types of incidents such as fires, spills, or releases without depending on the local emergency responders or their resources."
Unconventional well operators are required to file an emergency response plan with the county and assistance from outside the county can be obtained from the "unmet needs process of the Regional Task Force or the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency."
"I hope our preparedness is matched by increased activity in Warren County," Commissioner John Bortz said during the meeting.
Organizations with responsibilities to respond to an emergency include the Warren County Emergency Management Agency; the municipal EMA; the local fire department; local emergency management services; the local police department; Pennsylvania State Police; Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; and the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission.