May 29 (Reuters) - A MarkWest Energy Partners LP natural gas processing plant in southwest Pennsylvania was shut on Wednesday after an apparent lightning strike, according to local media reports.
MarkWest Energy Partners spokesman Robert McHale said, “At approximately 6:00 p.m., during severe weather conditions, MarkWest’s Houston facility was struck by lightning,” according to a report on the WPXI News website.
“All employees and contractors are accounted for and there are no reported injuries. The facility will remain shut down until a thorough inspection is completed,” McHale said, according to the report.
The plant processes Marcellus shale natural gas.
Officials at MarkWest were not immediately available for comment.
Ken Bollinger, Washington County 911 operations manager, said no one was hurt in the explosion and a small fire was quickly extinguished, according to the report.
Bollinger said a brief gas leak sent a plume over the plant, which is located in the town of Chartiers, according to the report.
Emergency responders evacuated residents from a two-mile area around the plant but they were able to return to their homes after 9:30 p.m., Bollinger said, according to the report. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Nick Zieminski)