By Don Hopey
A massive, noisy natural gas flare will be visible next week in western Washington County, illuminating the first well that Range Resources Inc. drilled into the Utica Shale formation in five years.
The flaring, an increasingly rare event in the Marcellus Shale gas play, is scheduled to begin Dec. 7 and will burn brightly for as long as a week at Range Resources’ well pad on property that the Claysville Sportsmen’s Club owns in Donegal Township, just east of Dutch Fork Lake.
The 60- to 80-foot-tall ridge top flare will shoot toward the heavens atop a 100-foot-tall stack pipe, lighting up the night sky. It likely will be visible in Washington, Pa., more than 10 miles to the east, and certainly to travelers on Interstate 70, a mile to the south.
Range representatives announced the flaring to Donegal Township supervisors Nov. 12, telling them it is considered a “big burn” and will produce a continuous noise of as much as 95 decibels at the well pad. Sustained decibel levels between 90 and 95 can result in permanent hearing loss, but workers will be equipped with ear protection.
“They told us the flare would be double the size of other well flares, and the noise will be like a siren on a firetruck,” said Doug Teagarden, a township supervisor. “There are houses within a couple of hundred yards of the well pad, and those folks are going to hear it.”Read more