Ohio's Columbiana County Evacuates 450 After Gas Leak at Hilcorp Energy Well

(Reuters) — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said on Tuesday that more than 450 people have been evacuated from areas within a mile of a natural gas well in Columbiana County while state authorities responded to a gas leak there.

Hilcorp Energy Co. said a contractor vehicle working on its Tarka location in the county struck a producing well on the pad, causing a release of natural gas at around 9:00 a.m.

Youngstown, Ohio, television station WBKN said residents were evacuated to a nearby elementary school and local officials did not yet have a timeline for when people could return to their homes. It said Hilcorp shut down the remaining 12 wells on the affected pad and called in a well-control specialist to regain control of the well. DeWine said the state would continue to monitor air quality.

"Personnel were immediately evacuated and all other wells and facilities on the location were shut in. No injuries have been reported," the company said.

Local emergency management officials instituted a one-mile evacuation zone shortly after the incident, the governor's news release said. It added that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management was working to mitigate the situation, along with Hilcorp, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, local first responders and oil and gas emergency contractors.

The mitigation work will continue until Hilcorp regains control of the well, the Governor's office said.

Houston-based Hilcorp's website says the company is one of the largest privately owned oil and natural gas producers in the U.S.

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