Source of gas pipeline leak in Coal township found, being fixed
COAL TOWNSHIP - An official with Sunoco Logistics said the source of a gas pipeline leak was identified Monday and efforts to repair the line continue.
Jeffrey P. Shields, communications manager for Sunoco Logistics, notified The News-Item via e-mail Monday afternoon and said the point of gas release was identified in a wooded area approximately a mile from Route 61 in Coal Township near the Shamokin Township line.
He said the small amount of gas that seeped from the pipe after excavation was contained to an area next to the pipeline.
"We are now working to repair the pipe and return it to service," Shields said.
He said he's not sure when repairs to the line will be completed.
Approximately 50 employees from Sunoco Logistics, subcontracting companies and environmental agencies joined forces over the past few days to determine the location of the leak that was discovered Friday on Little Mountain.
Sunoco Logistics employees and local and county officials said throughout the weekend and Monday the leak did not pose a danger to the public.
The line carries gasoline from Reading to Buffalo, N.Y. The pipeline, 14 inches in diameter, was installed in 1964 by the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) and purchased in 1990 by Sunoco.
A command center was established in a wooded area off Route 61 under a tunnel at the Brewery Curve near Tharptown, while another work crew continued to monitor the situation from Trevorton Road (Route 225) near Forest Hills Fire Company and Annabelle's Family Restaurant. Approximately 25 vehicles and various equipment were at the command center Monday morning.
Shields said employees earlier drained the gas from the line locally in hopes of determining the source of the leak.
Charles Stewart was the incident manager at the command center. He was being assisted by various company personnel, including right-of-way specialist Michael M. Baker.
Some of the property where the leak was investigated encompasses state game land, while other sections are privately owned.
Coal Township Manager Rob Slaby said he met with Stewart at the command center Monday morning and was given an update. Slaby was first informed about the leak Friday afternoon by Northumberland County Emergency Management Agency Director Steve Jeffery.
Early Monday, subcontractors were using portable lights to illuminate the wooded mountainside. Just off Trevorton Road, a tent surrounded a portion of the pipeline where pressure could be relieved if necessary.
Flag personnel from an independent contractor provided traffic control along Trevorton Road.
Stacey Shingara, a cook at Annabelle's, said some customers commented about the gas leak. She said the incident actually helped increase business because several employees from Sunoco Logistics and other companies had eaten at the restaurant every day since Friday.
Jeffery said a Zalar Drive resident walking on the mountain reported the leak Friday afternoon after smelling gasoline in a remote area about three-quarters of the way up the south side of the mountain.
On May 16, 2007, an estimated 63,000 gallons of fuel spilled when a heavy equipment operator from Mallard Contracting Inc., Mount Carmel, struck the same pipeline off a mining access road on the south face of Big Mountain. The break affected homeowners in the Edgewood section of Coal Township, not far from Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School and the Shamokin Area School District campuses.
In 2009, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Mallard reached an agreement on the cleanup of the site.