Residents Evacuated After High Pressure Gas Pipeline Leak in Somerset

Nearly 100 Somerset County residents were evacuated on Tuesday, February 20, 2018, after emergency responders were alerted to a high pressure gas leak originating from a natural gas pipeline near Rockwood, PA.  The pipeline is operated by Spectra Energy.  Many in the area are familiar with the name, as it is the same company which operated the line in Salem Township that tragically erupted in April 2016. The Salem Township pipeline explosion created flames which could be seen for miles, charred everything in its path, and nearly cost one man his life.  The resident, who was merely napping in his home at the time, was severely burned on over half of his body and sustained life threatening injuries caused by the explosion.  

A high-pressure pipeline such as this one in Rockwood could have had similarly tragic results.  Fortunately, quick action by local responders cleared out all residents within ½ mile until the leak could be secured.  Although no injuries were reported, many residents are understandably shaken by the experience.  One resident, Jena Shafer, who lives nearly three miles from the leak, said it “sounded like a jet taking off.”

The Somerset situation is yet another example of how insufficient regulatory oversight and a lack of accountability surrounding gas pipelines can lead to potentially dire consequences.  MWA and the Youghiogheny RIVERKEEPER® believe that protection of our community and environmental resources are the first priority and should not be threatened by companies that show a history of non-compliance.

Crews on scene investigating the day after the leak.