Tuesday, December 22, 2015


"Photos of wet pavement Rt. 20 & 41 mid day 12-18-16 from the ole Pioneer Inn at Glade Creek to top of Curtin Mt. ... What the hey you say .., well here's the big Deal. This water was spread on the road by a WVDOH tanker truck & the water happens to be a product of gas well drilling & fracking operations & contains more lethal poisonous chemicals than most of us could ever name & some that the oil ...& gas won't tell us about. It does contain large amounts of salts which does aid in the melting of snow & ice on the roads but where do all those poisons go when the snow melts & the rains come folks. Very easy answer which you don't wanna hear ... The poisons flush into the streams & seep into the ground waters both of which are sources of your drinking water. Do you want to drink that stuff that is being poured on our highways??"  

Feeling lucky? Maybe you will NOT end up behind one of these trucks, like we did recently. My nose, throat and eyes were burning and I could SMELL chemicals, despite having the vehicle's air conditioning set to recirculate. Our windscreen wipers were running the whole time. The whole car was covered. The residue dried white. I was fully aware that this residue is radioactive, and simply breathing dust could, at the least, set you up for lung cancer from alpha and gamma ray emitters.

So, you ask, what kind of pollutants are we talking about? Benzene, Bromides, Radium.. and heavy metals .. just for starters!

From Pennsylvania to Ohio - the radiation issue alone is an eye-opener

"Radium in one sample of Marcellus shale wastewater, also called brine, that Pennsylvania officials collected in 2009 was 3,609 times more radioactive than a federal safety limit for drinking water. It was 300 times higher than a Nuclear Regulatory Commission limit for industrial discharges to water.
The December 2011 study, compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey, also found that the median levels of radium in brine from Marcellus shale wells was more than three times higher than brine collected from conventional oil and gas wells.
“These are very, very high concentrations of radium compared to other oil and gas brines,” said Mark Engle, a U.S. Geological Survey research geologist and co-author of the report.
State law bans radioactive shale-well sand and sludge from Ohio landfills. However, brine can be sent down any of Ohio’s 171 active disposal wells regardless of how much radium it contains. Michael Snee, the Ohio Department of Health’s radiation-protection chief, said that’s the safest place for brine.“Injection wells are almost the perfect solution for that disposal issue,” Snee said.
However, environmental advocates say the Geological Survey’s report intensifies their fears of surface spills and leaks to groundwater.
“It’s an alarm bell in the night that we better get serious about testing the material in the Utica shale right here in Ohio,” said Jack Shaner, an Ohio Environmental Council lobbyist.
Shaner and others said the study shows that state officials should look at what’s bubbling out of Ohio’s shale wells.
Radiation is yet another wrinkle in the ongoing debate over “fracking,” a process that sends millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals down wells to shatter shale and free trapped oil and gas. Thousands of Marcellus shale wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania. Of the 12.2 million barrels of brine injected into Ohio disposal wells last year, 53 percent came from Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
A similar drilling and fracking boom is expected in Ohio’s Utica shale. Engle said the Marcellus shale absorbs uranium from ancient saltwater trapped within the rock layer. The decaying uranium then leaks radium into the water. As the wells continue to produce oil and gas, Engle said the brine becomes saltier and more radioactive.
For its study, the Geological Survey examined 52 samples of Marcellus shale brine collected from wells in New York and Pennsylvania from 2009 through 2011.In 37 of the samples, radioactivity from radium-226 and radium-228 was at least 242 times higher than the drinking-water standard and at least 20 times higher than the industrial standard.
That included a sample collected Dec. 21, 2009, in Tioga County, Pa., that was 3,609 times higher than the drinking water standard and 300 times higher than the industrial.
The U.S. Geological Survey’s Ohio office wants to study radium and other contents of Utica brine. “We want to understand these natural formation fluids, what’s in the ground before any drilling occurred,” said Ralph Haefner, the survey’s groundwater-studies chief.
Snee said there’s no need for the state to test Utica brine because disposal wells are safe. He said shale wastes trucked to landfills pose a bigger threat to groundwater.
In May, the health department told American Landfill in Stark County that two truckloads of waste sand from two Greene County, Pa., wells must instead go to a hazardous-waste landfill.
Required lab tests showed radium at levels 36 times higher than the state’s safety standard. Some critics say they worry that Ohio municipalities will spray shale brine on roadways in winter to combat ice. There are no restrictions against using shale-well brine on Ohio roadways."
There is also NO restriction on spraying brine on West Virginia's roadways.
LINK - http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/09/03/gas-well-waste-full-of-radium.html

Monday, December 22, 2014


From The Columbus Dispatch

VIDEO LINK - Monroe County Resident Describes Evacuation of his Family but Won't Leave his Animals Behind

SARDIS, Ohio — This hollow used to be peaceful.
Not long ago, Randy Heater and his daughters would roam the Monroe County hills to hunt, setting up deer stands on quiet fall days when the air was still.

On Dec. 13, that stillness shattered.

Crews lost control of a fracked well on a hilltop near Heater’s house. Natural gas surged into the air.
From their backyard, less than a mile from the well, the Heaters heard it. The rushing gas sounded like a broken air hose, Heater said — a deep, steady WHOOOOSH.

As the weekend approached, gas was still spewing uncontrollably.

Families within a mile and a half of the well have been evacuated, although not all have left their homes. They’ve been allowed back during the day, to grab clothes and feed animals, but they are supposed to be elsewhere at night.

The county emergency management agency says the families might be allowed home for good by Wednesday, Christmas Eve, but officials aren’t sure.

“We weren’t given any answers,” Heater said last week. “The only people who would talk to us is the volunteer fire department, and they weren’t getting any answers. And I understood at first. But this is Day 6, right here, and we still don’t have answers.”

The well is just outside Sardis, a community of about 560 people about 145 miles east of Columbus.
Over the past week, people there banded together.

Families who live near the well have stayed with parents or siblings or friends, sleeping on couches and recliners and living-room floors.

An elementary school that closed in 2011 has been open as a shelter for families during the day.
Triad Hunter, the company that owns the well, didn’t return calls last week. But people who were evacuated from their homes said the company told them they would be reimbursed for meals, mileage and hotel rooms.
There aren’t many hotels near Sardis, however, and the closest ones, in New Martinsville, W.Va., are filled, mostly by temporary oil and gas workers. Triad Hunter offered to put people up in hotels in Marietta, a 45-minute drive from Sardis.

Triad Hunter has offices in Marietta but is headquartered in Texas. The well that blew out on Dec. 13 had been dormant for about a year, according to state records. The company drilled the well, fracked it and plugged it in November 2013.

Crews were at the well on Dec. 13 to unplug it and prepare it for production, according to a statement on the company’s website. When they removed the cap, the pressure inside the well had gotten too high, and gas poured out. Crews couldn’t bolt the cap back in place.

It is the latest in a string of incidents this year involving fracked wells and the oil and gas industry in Monroe County, and it has some residents questioning how safe those wells are.

“If this is a one-time deal, and this happens once, fine,” said Nicole Reed, who lives near the well and was told to leave her home with her husband and three daughters. “But you just wonder how many times are things like this going to happen? Are we always going to have to have a bag packed."

Over the summer, a well caught fire not far from Sardis, sending a thick plume of black smoke into the air and causing 25 families to flee their homes. Many of Reed’s relatives lived near that well and had to find other places to stay.

The debate over horizontal hydraulic fracturing — commonly called fracking — is raging across the country as states weigh the benefits against the costs.

To horizontally frack for oil and gas, companies drill deep underground, then turn the drill 90 degrees to cut into shale deposits. They shoot a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the well to fracture the shale. That frees oil and gas in the shale, which then flow back up the well to a wellhead.

Oil and gas industry officials say the method is safe, and they point to the number of wells that operate without incident across the United States.

But as the industry has grown in Ohio, so, too, have the number of emergencies.

In October, a well blew out in Jefferson County, forcing 400 families to evacuate their homes. Last month, an electrician working on a pump near a fracked well in Noble County was killed in an explosion.

No one has been injured by the gas spewing out of this well, and the gas hasn’t caught fire.

And some families who live near the well say they accept the risks.

“They have got top-notch people in here working on it,” said Scotty McPeek, who can see the wellhead from his home. “I absolutely trust them.”

On Friday, McPeek and his wife, Ada, were at their home. Mr. McPeek said he could see the gas spewing out of the well from a window in his house. He said the plume went “about 50, 60, 70 feet high.”

Both McPeek and his wife are retired, and they’ve been staying with their son. The disruption to their lives is minimal, he said.

For other families, like the Reeds, the disruption has been much larger.

Reed, a reading teacher at a local elementary school, has wrapped her daughters’ Christmas presents and is keeping them in her classroom because she doesn’t know where they’ll be for the holiday.

She told her daughters: “Santa can find us wherever we are, as long as we’re together.”

“It actually puts Christmas into perspective,” she said.

Reed isn’t angry, yet. But she would like more information about what is happening near her home.
Heater and his family feel the same way.

For Heater, the jobs and money that oil and gas create don’t come close to outweighing the risks.

“I don’t think the trade-off is worth it. I haven’t thought that from the beginning,” he said. “ I feel like the valley sold its soul to the devil.”

Saturday, December 6, 2014


A company has bid $6.2 million plus royalties to drill for natural gas and oil under state wildlife conservation land in Tyler County.

Denver-based Antero Resources is offering to pay more than $12,000 an acre for fracking rights under Conaway Run Wildlife Management Area, state Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette said. The bid includes a 20-percent royalty on what's extracted, and the lease would likely last three years.

The bid on the 518-acre wildlife area's oil and natural gas rights was unveiled Friday in Charleston. The land is used for hunting, fishing and camping, and includes a 100-yard rifle range.

Houston-based Noble Energy submitted a bid for about half the upfront money with the same royalty rate.

"One of those two bids is probably a record," Burdette said.

It's the second time West Virginia has offered to let companies drill horizontally under its land. Leasing the land for the technique called hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, is a new venture for West Virginia, and officials think it could produce plenty of money during uncertain budget times.

In West Virginia's first try at fracking leases, officials opened bids for 22 miles of state land under the Ohio River in September. Six miles are under contract negotiations and another 11 miles are out for bid or will be shortly. Seven additional miles are being considered for bid openings.

Environmental groups cautioned Gov. Early Ray Tomblin to reconsider the Ohio River leases, since they would allow drilling beneath a river that provides drinking water to millions of people.

Burdette said the drilling would occur about a mile under the river. State environmental regulators would still have to approve permits for the operations.

All drilling equipment would need to be off-site of the state lands, Burdette added.

Other properties the state is thinking about leasing rights for include: 131 acres under Fish Creek in Marshall County; Jug Wildlife Management Area in Tyler County; and 24 acres in Doddridge County.

No fracking contracts have yet been finalized, however. All the money from the state's fracking leases would go back into Division of Natural Resources needs, like upgrades at state parks.


Thursday, December 4, 2014


Drilling involves boring down to rock formations that contain oil or natural gas. Fluid or “mud” is circulated down hole to keep the drill bit cool and lubricated, and it returns to the surface carrying rock debris known as “cuttings.” During completion, fluids and cuttings within the well bore are removed. Some gas usually exits as these materials come to the surface, and the gas is typically flared.
AIR: Exhaust fumes from drilling equipment; venting and flaring of natural gas.
SOIL: Muds and cuttings, which may contain chemical additives, salts, metals and hydrocarbons, are often stored in pits and buried on site. This may sterilize soils.
WATER: Contaminants in pit sludge may leach out of the soil or overflow the pit and contaminate nearby soils, surface waters and groundwater.

Hydraulic fracturing, a common stimulation technique, involves fracturing the target formation with high-pressure injection of various substances. After fracturing, some of the injected fluids and gas from the formation flow out of the well, and sand remains behind to prop open the fractures.
AIR: Exhaust fumes from heavy equipment; flaring or venting of gas; wastes stored in pits may contain volatile chemicals that escape into the air.
SOIL: Many fracturing chemicals are hazardous, and may contaminate soil if spilled on site.
WATER: Fracturing fluids may be injected into or come in contact with fresh water aquifers.Waste fluids stored in pits may contaminate surface or groundwater if pits leak or overflow.

Typically, during coalbed methane operations water must be removed from the coals before methane will flow to the well. Over time, water production tends to decrease. In conventional natural gas and oil formations, however, water production often increases with time, as the oil and gas are depleted. Produced water is piped or trucked to disposal ponds or underground injection wells; or discharged on land or into surface waters.
AIR: When stored in open pits volatile hydrocarbons (e.g., benzene) escape into the air. The pumping of shallow water may result in the migration of methane and H2S to from soil to air. Exhaust is created from water pumps powered by diesel or natural-gas-fired engines.
SOIL: salts, metals,hydrocarbons or traces of chemical additives in produced water may contaminate soil if spilled on the surface or stored in earthen pits.
WATER: produced water may contaminate waters through spills, pipelines breaks, leaks from storage ponds, or movement of injected water into a freshwater aquifer.

Dehydration. During separation, gas is separated from heavier hydrocarbons (e.g., oil and natural gas liquids), and water may also be “knocked out.” Dehydrators remove water from the gas stream. Separation and dehydration may occur at well sites, compressor stations, gas processing plants or oil storage sites (i.e., tank batteries).
AIR: Dehydrators and separators often vent large volumes of methane and volatile organic compounds.Dissolved Hydrocarbons in wastewater may escape into the air.
SOIL: Pits or tanks that store wastewater may leak or overflow and contaminate soil.
WATER: Wastewater may contain dissolved hydrocarbons,
sand and metals that can contaminate surface and groundwater.

Typically, diesel or natural gas fired engines provide power to compressors that, in turn, compress the gas. Some compressors are used to pull the gas out of wells, while other compressors push the gas along a pipeline. Field compression may occur at well sites. Centralized compressor facilities are required, however, to move large volumes of gas to and through larger gas transmission pipelines.
AIR: Engine exhaust; occasional venting of natural gas.
SOIL AND WATER: Soil and water pollution may occur due to spills or leaks of diesel or other fuel used to power the compressors.


Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes. Benzene is a known carcinogen. Toluene may affect the reproductive and central nervous systems; while ethylbenzene and xylenes may have respiratory and neurological effects. Venting of natural gas, Pits, Produced water, Dehydration

CH4 Methane
Main concern is the explosive nature of this gas. Venting of natural gas, Dehydration

A complex mixture of hydrocarbons. Both fuel and exhaust contains carcinogenic substances like benzene and PAHs. Stimulation fluids, Oil-based drilling muds, Engines/heavy equipment

Aggravates respiratory conditions, and affects neurological system, cardiovascular system and can cause central nervous system problems. Venting and flaring of natural gas (if present in the oil and gas formations), Migration from soils

Examples: arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium, zinc and others. There are different potential health effects associated with each metal. Possible toxic effects include skin problems, hair loss, kidney damage, high blood pressure, increased cancer, neurological damage risk and others. Drilling muds, Stimulation fluids, Pits, Produced water, Venting and flaring, Diesel exhaust

React with VOCs to form ground-level ozone and smog, which can trigger respiratory problems. React with other chemicals to form particulate pollution, which can damage lungs and cause respiratory illness, heart conditions and premature death. Reacts with common organic chemicals to form toxics that may cause biological mutations. Compressor engines, Flaring, Diesel and natural gas engine exhaust

Several agencies have classified some PAHs as probable or possible carcinogens. Animal studies show reproductive effects. Diesel exhaust, Flaring, Pits.

Small particles suspended in air.  Can be inhaled and cause health effects like respiratory ailments, aggravation of asthma and allergies, painful breathing, shortness of breath, chronic bronchitis and premature death. May combine with other air pollutants to aggravate health problems. Some particulates, such as diesel exhaust are carcinogenic. Diesel exhaust, Pits (dust from), Venting and flaring

Reacts with other chemicals to form particulate pollution, which can damage lungs and cause respiratory illness, heart conditions and premature death.
Diesel and natural gas engine exhaust, Flaring

Volatile Organic Compounds, include BTEX formaldehyde and others. React with NOx to form ground-level ozone and smog, which can trigger respiratory problems. Can cause health problems such as cancer.
Venting and flaring of natural gas, Pits, Oily wastes, Diesel and natural gas engine exhaust, Compressors. 

Monday, September 16, 2013



THOUSANDS of gas wells across Colorado are underwater. Huge storage tanks of carcinogenic and neurotoxic chemicals are being displaced and overturned by the massive floodwaters. These toxins will end up polluting the soil, air and groundwater for decades at least!

Photo taken by a resident of Weld County, Colorado:

This is exactly happens when you frack in a flood plain!  Obviously greed came into play over safety issues when permits were issued.

From the Denver Post: 

“Oil drums, tanks and other industrial debris mixed into the swollen river flowing northeast. County officials did not give locations of where the pipeline broke and where other pipelines were compromised.
While the water levels in the South Platte appear to be receding slightly, bridges over the South Platte have been closed as water overflowed the bridges at least as far east as Morgan County.
Oil and gas industry crews have been monitoring wells drilled into the flood plain east of Greeley in Weld County.
One pipeline has broken and is leaking, Weld County Emergency Manager Roy Rudisill. Other industry pipelines are sagging as saturated sediment erodes around the expanding river.
Industry crews “are shutting in the lines, shutting in the wells,” Rudisill said.
In a statement, Gary Wockner, of Clean Water Action, said “Fracking and operating oil and gas facilities in floodplains is extremely risky. Flood waters can topple facilities and spread oil, gas, and cancer-causing fracking chemicals across vast landscapes making contamination and clean-up efforts exponentially worse and more complicated.”

Gas line rupture east of Greeley:

 From The Daily Camera:

"Inundated along with roads, bridges, houses and farms are thousands of oil and gas wells and associated condensate tanks and ponds in northeast Boulder County and southwest Weld County.

Anti-fracking activists say the industry needs to account for what types of chemicals may be contaminating soil and groundwater in the area around these wells.

The concentration of oil and gas wells in flood-prone areas speaks to one more risk of what they see as a dangerous industry.

Regulators say they agree these well sites could pose a contamination risk, and they will get out to assess the damage as soon as it's feasible.

An Encana Oil and Gas representative said many wells were "shut in" in anticipation of the flood to minimize the risk.

Lafayette-based anti-fracking activist Cliff Willmeng said he spent two days "zig-zagging" across Weld and Boulder counties documenting flooded drilling sites, mostly along the drainageway of the St. Vrain River. He observed "hundreds" of wells that were inundated. He also saw many condensate tanks that hold waste material from fracking at odd angles or even overturned.

"It's clear that the density of the oil and gas activity there did not respect where the water would go," Willmeng said. "What we immediately need to know is what is leaking and we need a full detailed report of what that is. This is washing across agricultural land and into the waterways. Now we have to discuss what type of exposure the human population is going to have to suffer through."

Colorado Oil and Gas Association President Tisha Schuller said in an email that the industry prepares and drills for these types of natural disasters and opened 24-hour incident command centers to monitor wells and mitigate potential hazards.

"We are working around the clock to monitor, prevent, and address the effects of flooding," she said. "In cases where personnel could be freed up, they have been made available to communities for flood rescue and relief efforts."

A spokesman for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission said the agency is aware of the potential for contamination from flooded drilling sites, but there simply is no way to get to those sites while flooding is ongoing and while resources are concentrated on saving lives.

"COGCC will be working with state and local authorities to assess risks and, where necessary, provide environmental response and remediation," said Todd Hartman, a spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources.

Hartman said many operators have added security to tanks, like chains to make sure they don't float away, though aerial photographs have shown floating and drifting tanks in some flooded areas.

Also, many operators "shut in" or closed down well operations in anticipation of flooding.

Wendy Wiedenbeck, a spokeswoman for Encana, a major gas driller in the region, said in a news release that the company shut-in production at wells throughout the affected areas and has remote monitoring to stop production at additional wells if they are affected by flooding.

Crews are conducting site-by-site visits as it becomes safe to do so, she said.

Willmeng said shutting-in does not isolate all the hydrocarbons in case of flooding. He's also concerned that there simply aren't enough inspectors to deal with all the wells.

Andrew Barth, a city spokesman working with the Boulder Office of Emergency Management during the disaster, said local officials are well aware of potential problems from drilling wells, as well as from flooded gas stations and industrial sites. However, inspections and assessment will have to wait until the immediate threat to life and safety has passed.

"We've seen those same pictures, and we are concerned," he said. "We are going to go out and look at those as once we're out of the immediate search and rescue phase."

More Photos in this article:


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.