Gas Storage Field Erupts Under Hutchinson, Kansas
City officials in Hutchinson, KS continue their investigation
after a suspected leaking natural gas storage cavern caused two
explosions in mid-January, leveling businesses and killing one man
and injuring his wife.
The cavern was sealed last Monday (Jan. 22) and now experts are
trying to determine how to vent a huge gas bubble still spewing
through geysers all over town. Though not conclusive, officials
think the explosions were caused by a natural gas pipe leak at the
Yaggy Field storage facility, seven miles northwest of Hutchinson
and operated by Kansas Gas Service, a subsidiary of ONEOK, based in
Tulsa. The cavern is one of about 160 that make up the Yaggy Field,
which has a combined storage capacity of 3.2 Bcf.
The first explosion leveled a downtown business and gutted
another, and in the aftermath, fire officials found water and gas
geysers erupting throughout the city. Residents were temporarily
evacuated, but they were returned to their homes that day. The
following day (Jan. 18), another blast ripped into a trailer home,
killing one man and injuring his wife. Hundreds of residents living
in and around the mobile home park were evacuated, and the police
department is unsure when all of them may return to their homes.
A meeting was scheduled yesterday (Jan. 28) between city
officials and those who have been forced to relocate. Kansas Gas
have plugged the pipe, which is about 550 feet below the surface,
and two other gas leaks also were fixed last week, but apparently,
they were the result of gas line breaks and not connected to the
original leak. Now, geologists are trying to figure out how to vent
the gas bubble that continues to spew through geysers there.
Under Kansas Gas' direction, drilling is under way on four deep
vent wells planned around the town, even while the Kansas
Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) determines whether to
uncap some of the 150-to-300 abandoned wells to release trapped
gas. KDHE also is searching for other sources that might be feeding
an underground gas plume, which they believe was traveling through
the soil into Hutchinson and then exiting through abandoned and
uncapped brine wells.
Nine of the wells from which geysers were apparent are in open
areas, but officials believe the two explosions resulted from gas
exiting through wells under or near an ignition source. The Kansas
Corporation Commission now is researching the location of old mines
in the area.
Carolyn Davis, Houston
©Copyright 2001 Intelligence Press, Inc. All rights
reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or
redistributed in whole or in part without prior written consent of
Intelligence Press, Inc.