Monday, January 21, 2013


But surely it was ONLY salt brine.. from a "well". Wonder why the road was shut down in both directions and the Dept of Environmental Protection was called?

Walton, Roane County , West Virginia

ROANE COUNTY WRECK: Route 119 Near Walton Shut Down After Tank Of Salt Brine Snaps Off Truck 

Route 119 near Walton in Roane County was shut down Monday afternoon when a tank of salt brine snapped off a truck and struck a utility pole, an emergency dispatcher said.

The accident happened about 12:50 p.m. on Route 119 near Plant Road, the dispatcher said. The truck was hauling salt brine water from a well.

No injuries were reported, but the road was shut down in both directions.

The dispatcher said the Division of Environmental Protection was on its way to investigation. The Roane County Sheriff's Department was at the scene.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013


 The key point here is that according to a recent NTSB report, 61 percent of the nation's pipelines cannot physically accommodate pigs and it could cost companies about $12 billion to retrofit the nation's pipes to make them do so... and they are NOT compelled to do so. In the meantime, it seems likely that other pipelines of the same age and older will continue to rupture based on the findings of extreme thinning in the wall of the exploded section with no way to check them.

Columbia Gas Transmission officials have reported that the pipeline that exploded last week could not be checked for corrosion using one important pipeline safety tool, Kanawha County officials said Monday.

The 20-inch diameter natural gas transmission line showed signs of external corrosion, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the incident. The pipe had thinned in places to about a third of the thickness it ought to have been, the NTSB said.

Pipeline safety advocates - including the NTSB - recommend pipes be tested for such corrosion using "smart pigs," which are metal tools that travel through a pipeline to check the pipe for irregularities, including cracks and corrosion.

"The pipe that ruptured did not have valves on it that would accept the pig," said Kanawha fire coordinator C.W. Sigman, who met Monday with Columbia representatives.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper confirmed Sigman's account of the meeting.
"It is our understanding that the ruptured pipe was not piggable," Carper said through a spokeswoman.
Columbia is a subsidiary of Indiana-based NiSource. Last week, one of its 20-inch diameter transmission lines ruptured and filled the sky with fire, scorched the earth and ruined the surface of a segment of Interstate 77. Miraculously, nobody was injured or killed.

The company did not comment on that pipe's ability to handle a smart pig, citing the NTSB's ongoing investigation of the explosion.

Pipeline safety advocates have argued smart pigs are a key way to ensure the structural integrity of pipelines.
"I think those are kind of the gold standards for measuring corrosion," said Carl Weimer, head of the Pipeline Safety Trust, a Bellingham, Wash.-based group devoted to improving pipeline safety.

Following a deadly pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Calif., the NTSB recommended all gas transmission pipelines be upgraded to accommodate smart pigs, with priority given to older pipelines.

According to a recent NTSB report, 61 percent of the nation's pipelines cannot physically accommodate pigs and it could cost companies about $12 billion to retrofit the nation's pipes to make them do so.

Weimer said only about 7 percent of the nation's pipelines are required to run smart pigs.
Sigman said Columbia plans to upgrade the exploded pipeline so it can accommodate a smart pig - when and if it reopens.

"I think they are going to upgrade it to where they can pig it," Sigman said of the pipeline.

But it will be a long time before the pipeline is back in service, Sigman said the company told him.
Columbia operates two other lines in the area.

The company does not believe the explosion harmed either of those two lines.

Both of the lines that did not explode had been pigged in 2009, Sigman said. (He had previously said the year was 2008.)

County officials and Columbia representatives met at 5 p.m. Monday to talk about the company's plan to restart the second of the two pipelines near the one that exploded.

A 30-inch line and 26-inch line are both within 200 feet of the exploded pipe.

The lines help supply demand to customers near Washington.

The 26-inch line, known as SM-86, was back in service the night of the explosion. It is 183 feet from the exploded pipe, according to a company plan.

"Pressure was restored slowly over a 2.5-hour period to verify the integrity of the pipeline," the company told the state Public Service Commission.

As it slowly put gas back into the line, the company had people patrolling the pipe by foot and by helicopter looking for leaks.

Columbia has developed a similar plan to return the 30-inch line known as the "SM-86 loop" to service on Wednesday.

That line is 53 feet north of the exploded pipe, according to the company plan.

The company said it could do so without closing either Interstate 77 or Kanawha 21 (Sissonville Drive).

The company had previously floated the idea of rerouting traffic in the Sissonville area while the company gradually refilled the SM-86 loops with gas. The state Department of Transportation was not a fan of the idea, which could have closed a major interstate for several hours the week before Christmas.

Columbia also hired Det Norske Veritas, an international risk management company, to study whether last week's explosion could have damaged the 30-inch line nearest the ruptured pipe.

The consultant, known as DNK, concluded it was unlikely the nearby pipe had suffered any damage.

Citing another report by the Pipeline Research Council International, DNK said, "a spacing of at least 25 feet, regardless of other factors such as pipe diameter, gas flow in the second pipeline, etc., is sufficient to reduce possible thermal damage to parallel pipelines." The nearby pipe was more than twice that distance from the ruptured pipe.

But the consultant said there was "finite, albeit small, probability that a near critical defect existed" just before the flow of gas was stopped to the pipe. Columbia shut off the flow of gas to all three pipes in the hour following the explosion.

"This defect could grow to a critical size as a result of the large pressure cycle associated with depressurization and re-pressurization of the pipeline, resulting in a rupture or leak," DNK cautioned.
Columbia said it was confident it could return its pipeline to service this week in a "slow and controlled manager, gradually increasing supply and pressure."

"In addition to performing the analysis to confirm that the incident did not affect Line SM-86 Loop in the vicinity of the incident, Columbia reviewed past inspection and testing data for Line SM-86 Loop to further ensure the safety of the pipeline," company spokeswoman Chevalier Mayes said in an email.

"A detailed review of these past inspections confirms that the lines are safe to return to service, and the data from these past inspections was reviewed in detail with representatives of the (state and federal pipeline regulation agencies)."

Some of the data for that analysis came from a smart pig inspection in 2009, Columbia told the state PSC.



CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee will examine pipeline safety during a field hearing later this month in West Virginia, where a December explosion destroyed several homes and cooked a section of Interstate 77.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the Democrat who chairs the panel, said Monday he will convene the hearing Jan. 28 in Charleston. A list of witnesses for the hearing is still being developed, a spokesman said.

On Dec. 11, 2012, a 20-inch Columbia Gas Transmission line ruptured, triggering a massive fire and shutting down a major traffic artery near Sissonville, about 15 miles from Charleston.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the cause, has said the line showed signs of external corrosion and had thinned to about one-third of the recommended thickness in some spots. The Office of Pipeline Safety also said in a preliminary report that "general wall thinning is a major factor in the cause of the failure."

"The Sissonville explosion shook West Virginia quite literally," Rockefeller said, "and served as a stark reminder that pipeline safety is serious. And oversight is critically important."

Although there were no serious injuries in Sissonville, Rockefeller said things could have been worse.

"And West Virginians want to know everything is being done to prevent accidents — and disasters," he said.

The hearing will be the fourth the committee has held on pipeline safety while Rockefeller has chaired it.

Among other things, the Commerce Committee will review the implementation of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty and Job Creation Act of 2011, he said. It will also review the findings of a Government Accountability Office study expected Jan. 23 on how well prepared pipeline operators are to handle a hazardous liquid or gas release.

Columbia Gas Transmission is a subsidiary of Indiana-based NiSource.

The company said Monday it can't predict when the damaged pipeline will be back in service. But NiSource is working with federal, state and local officials "to take every step necessary to ensure the safety of our pipeline system," it said in an e-mail.


The company that owns and operates the natural gas pipeline that exploded in has a lengthy record of pipeline safety violations and federal enforcement actions, including several recent incidents in West Virginia.
ccording to records obtained from the federal Pipeline and Hazard Materials Administration, the Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. (CGT Corp.), which owns and operates the pipeline that exploded in an enormous fireball near Sissonville, West Virginia, has been involved in 14 separate natural gas pipeline safety incidents since February 2011, including five in West Virginia.

Columbia is a wholly owned subsidiary of NiSource, one of America’s largest energy companies.

One of these incidents, on Aug. 25, 2012, in Elyria, Ohio, sent four people to the hospital with serious injuries. Together, the 14 incidents accounted for nearly $1.5 million in property damage.

According to the PHMSA records, nine of the 14 incidents were caused by equipment failure or corrosion, including the most recent incident, which occurred on Oct. 30 in Flat Top, West Virginia, which involved a malfunction of controls related to relief equipment.

In the I-77 blast, which sent flames shooting 100 feet into the air and melted a section of Interstate 77 and destroyed four nearby homes, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board said, it took Columbia more than an hour to isolate the section of the pipeline where the explosion occurred and shut off the flow of gas to the pipeline.

During the same time period, PHMSA opened 11 separate enforcement actions involving alleged pipeline safety violations by Columbia. Five of those investigations are still underway. PHMSA is currently seeking more than $250,000 in civil penalties in connection with the investigations. The CGT Corp. paid a fine of $67,800 in connection with one investigation, in which the agency cited the company for failing to continuously monitor the concentration of gas in the air at the Claysville compressor station in Pennsylvania.

Damon Hill, a spokesperson for PHMSA, explained the difference in the number of incidents compared to the number of enforcement actions, saying that not every pipeline incident triggers an enforcement action.

“Every incident is investigated,” Hill told, “but not every investigation results in an enforcement action.”