Firefighters contain ‘substantial’ propane tank leak in South Greensburg |
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Renatta Signorini
First responders stand by as crews work to contain a 30,000-pound propane tank leak at Ferrellgas in South Greensburg on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014.

A valve malfunction was the cause of a substantial propane leak from a 30,000-pound tank on Tuesday morning at a distribution facility in South Greensburg, according to fire Chief Eric Hardy.

Ferrellgas officials said they had the problem contained about 12:30 p.m., Hardy said. Gas from the leaking tank was loaded into company tanker trucks and moved to another facility.

Cold weather worked to the advantage of firefighters. Water they sprayed on the valve froze, forming a barrier that blocked gas from escaping, Hardy said.

“We got it under control quick enough,” he said.

The leak was reported at 9:02 a.m. at the facility at 1805 S. Broad St. Ext., according to Westmoreland County Emergency Management spokesman Dan Stevens. A Ferrellgas official did not return a message seeking comment.

Company employees were working on a tank when they noticed an odor and reported it to 911, Hardy said.

Because propane is highly flammable, “the main problem is explosion,” the fire chief said.

According to Ferrellgas’ website, propane smells like rotten eggs or a dead animal. Hardy said residents in the area may notice the odor during the next few days.

No injuries were reported, and only Ferrellgas employees were evacuated. Officials took air readings around the area and determined it was unnecessary to evacuate nearby homes, Hardy said.

The road was closed to motor vehicles for about three hours, and train traffic was halted on nearby tracks.

Hazardous-material crews, firefighters and company employees worked to stop the leak and sprayed water to dilute the escaped propane, which stays low to the ground.

Tanker trucks from about a dozen fire companies from around the county either responded to the scene or were on standby at their stations.

Ferrellgas, a national supplier and distributor of propane for 75 years, has 11 outlets in Western Pennsylvania, including Somerset and Pittsburgh, according to its website.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reachedat 724-837-5374 [email protected].

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