Static electricity believed cause of oil well explosion

MINERVA – An oil well explosion on Knox School Road in West Township was heard – and felt – for miles, but caused no injuries and only damaged the well itself, despite sitting less than 300 feet from two residences and the West Township garage.

The explosion blew the lid off the tank, landing about 400-500 feet away in the yard of an adjacent residence. Sandy Creek Fire District Chief Aaron Stoller said officials from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency and Atlas Gas – which owns the well – were on scene Monday. Stoller said the officials are blaming static electricity to be the preliminary cause of the explosion.

He was unsure how officials came to that conclusion.

Stoller said the total call took about two hours, but, “It probably only took 10-15 minutes to set up and extinguish the fire.” He said the department, which received mutual aid from Homeworth and North Georgetown, also was conferring with hazmat officials while on the scene.

“In talking with folks with Atlas Energy, containment was inside tank,” Stoller said. “There is no outside hazard, nothing into the creeks or streams or anything.

“To my knowledge, EPA and EMA and Atlas reps were out there (Monday), and I’ve received no phone calls back that any other action is needed.”

Stoller said Atlas would be responsible for whatever cleanup is required by the EPA and EMA.

“They have to pump out the residue that’s left in the tank and decide what they’re going to do with that,” he said. “My guess is that they would replace that (well), but I don’t have an official response from them on that.”