Natural gas leak concerns in Walker County community

WALKER COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s been a busy couple of days for fire fighters in the Barney community of Walker County where homeowners discovered natural gas leaking into residential water wells.

According to fire fighters, there are three homes on Alexander Circle where temporary vents were installed on Saturday.

“They are venting it up high enough it can just dissipate. You know throughout the air, you know atmosphere and be less dangerous,” said Fire Chief Kelly Hyche, Barney Volunteer Fire Department.

Sunday morning a resident on nearby Wiggins Road reported smelling gas also according to Chief Hyche.

“It’s 100% gas,” said Hyche. “It is methane.”

The Barney Volunteer Fire Department, Cordova Fire Department, Walker County EMA, and a representative of a mining company were involved in both responses, according to Hyche.

“Basically we’ve got the same situation we had last night just about a quarter mile up the road. We found two wells this morning that’s got a little sign of gas and we’re just here checking them out trying to get the right people down here to cap them off,” said Hyche. “People with Drummond Company, coal company, they’re the one that’s doing the capping.”

Emergency responders don’t know exactly where the gas is coming from at this point according to Hyche.

“No, we don’t. There’s mines underground mines here. We don’t know exactly which one it could be. There’s one older one that’s not been used in a real long time. And then there’s one that’s not very old you know so we’re not for sure on that yet,” said Hyche.

He says it’s not a normal occurrence in the area.

“You know it’s the first time I’ve run across it and I’ve been doing this about 20 years and it’s the first time I’ve ever had this problem,” said Hyche.

Hyche said some homeowners were temporarily relocated due to the problem.

“The one lady we evacuated last night, she is back home. It was just precautionary measures till they got that gas vented. And this lady here she’s going to be you know relocated today until we get the problem solved here,” said Hyche.

Emergency responders think the gas may be bubbling up into the ground water and coming through the wells, according to Hyche.

“Just trying to find somewhere to get out and these wells are the best way,” said Hyche,

He says there are plans to permanently cap off the problem spots at some point.

“That’s what they are going to try to do. They’re going to start Monday you know doing some GPS work and seeing what they need to do,” said Hyche.

He offers this advice to Walker County residents.

“Just maybe keep a check on old wells they have at home. You know just for the smell you know or listen for the, you know gas is escaping you know and if they have any problems just call 911. And we’ll make arrangement to contact the right people,” said Hyche.

2014 WIAT-TV CBS42

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