New concerns arise about soil after Salem Township gas line explosion

New concerns arise about soil after Salem Township gas line explosion

SALEM TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The owner of the land in Salem Township that was scorched in last week’s gas line explosion is raising concerns about the condition of the soil and how it could impact his crops.

“The things we're most concerned about is inspecting it and getting the bare gravel planted again to prevent erosion,” Gary Sheppard of Penn State Extension told Channel 11 News Tuesday.

Sheppard is working with land owner Randy Gillis on how to get his farm up and running for both him and the surrounding community.

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“Right now is prime time to plant corn, and if he doesn't get that in, (it will be) another lost crop,” Sheppard said.

Gillis said the land as served as his family’s farm since the 1930s. Spectra Energy installed the first of its four gas lines on the property back in the 1950s.

Gillis said he’s never had a problem with the company before, but now he’s worried about keeping his farm going, finding hay to feed his animals throughout the winter and continuing to make a living.

He said without help from Spectra, the loss will be devastating financially.

Spectra officials still on scene in Salem Township said adjusters have arrived, saying, “(This is a) sincere and genuine process for helping this community.”

A cause for the explosion, which left one man severely burned, has not yet been determined.

While the investigation continues, crews will be taking soil samples Thursday to determine just how deep the damage from the blast goes.

“Our hope is that it’s just burned at the top layer, and over time you can recover crops, rebuild the organic matter that was lost,” Sheppard said.

Spectra and the Salem Township fire chief plan to hold a press conference Wednesday to provide an update on the investigation.