Did Shale Well Methane Migration Cause SWPA Home to Explode?

On Wednesday a man in Clarksville (Green County), PA turned on his gas stove and it exploded, catching fire to and leveling the entire house. The man, his girlfriend and young child were helicoptered to a hospital burn unit. The working theory/assumptions are (a) the man didn’t smell mercaptan, therefore the source of the gas that exploded was not from the stove or line into the house itself, and (b) because there is an EQT shale well “across the street” and a gathering pipeline that runs “next to the house,” methane “may have” migrated from the shale well to the home, or methane leaked from the gathering line into the home.
Continue reading

Columbia Gas Moves Date Back to Dec. on Fixes re Boston Tragedy

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts (NiSource) continues to try and recover (physically and reputationally) from a series of explosions in its local delivery pipelines north of Boston in mid-September (see Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25). The explosions and resulting fires tragically killed one teenager and injured 25 others. It left some 8,600 households and businesses without natural gas–for months. In early October, Columbia said it would replace all ~48 miles of natural gas mains, and all 6,100 affected service lines, by Nov. 19 (see Columbia’s Master Plan to Restore Gas Service in Mass. by Nov 19). While the main lines will be done early, by tomorrow in fact, Columbia, in something of a public relations disaster, is pushing back the date of finishing the service lines by about a month, into December. Meanwhile, the family of the teenager who was killed is preparing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Continue reading

Columbia Gas Already 80% Done Replacing 48 Miles of Exploded Pipes

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts (NiSource) continues to try and recover from a series of explosions in its local delivery pipelines north of Boston in mid-September (see Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25). The explosions and resulting fires tragically killed one teenager and injured 25 others. It left some 8,600 households and businesses without natural gas–for months. In early October, Columbia said it would replace all ~48 miles of natural gas mains, and all 6,100 affected service lines, by Nov. 19 (see Columbia’s Master Plan to Restore Gas Service in Mass. by Nov 19). To Columbia’s credit, 80% of the mains are already done, and over half of the service lines.
Continue reading

NTSB Report: Columbia Gas Bad Work Order Caused Explosions

Click for larger version

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has just released a preliminary report on what caused a series of explosions and fires in a natural gas pipeline system 25 miles northwest of Boston in mid-September (see Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25). The NTSB confirmed that the cause was overpressurized pipes due to workers capping off an old pipeline that contained sensors telling the system to pump more gas than needed. The question becomes, Who’s at fault? NTSB says the fault lies clearly Columbia Gas themselves.
Continue reading

Antis Want Mass. Residents Affected by Blast to Give Up NatGas

We’ve extensively covered the tragic accident and aftermath of Columbia Gas’ natural gas delivery pipelines exploding near Boston in mid-September. The explosions and resulting fires tragically killed one teenager and injured 25 others. It left some 8,600 households and businesses without natural gas–for months. Now anti-fossil fuel advocates say those 8,600 households should just forget about natural gas, forever, and instead convert to sky-high electric for their energy needs. They call it a “green new deal”–meaning make Columbia Gas pay to convert your home to all-electric appliances and heat pumps. We call it a “green raw deal.”
Continue reading

Columbia’s Master Plan to Restore Gas Service in Mass. by Nov 19

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts continues to try and recover from early missteps in how it responded to a series of explosions in its local delivery pipelines north of Boston in mid-September (see Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25). The explosions and resulting fires tragically killed one teenager and injured 25 others. It left some 8,600 households and businesses without natural gas–for months. Yesterday Columbia released a detailed plan for how they will replace all ~48 miles of pipeline and get everyone back online by Nov. 19.
Continue reading

Columbia Appoints Chief Restoration Officer After Boston Disaster

Pablo Vegas, NiSource’s new Chief Restoration Officer

Today we have another chapter in the unfolding story of the chain-reaction of explosions in local natural gas delivery pipelines owned by Columbia Gas of Massachusetts (NiSource) which happened about 25 miles north of Boston (see Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25). The explosions and resulting fires tragically killed one teenager and injured 25 others. It left some 8,600 households and businesses without natural gas–for up to two months. Earlier this week MDN reported that Columbia/NiSource has appointed an outside-the-company “Chief Recovery Officer” at the prompting of Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker (see Columbia Gas Appoints Ret. Navy Captain to Oversee Disaster Recovery). Retired Navy Captain Joe Albanese, founder and CEO of Commodore Builders (construction management firm) is the new CRO attempting to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Assisting Captain Albanese is retired Rear Admiral Richard Cellon, president of Cellon and Associates. Columbia announced yesterday the creation of a new inside-the-company position called Chief Restoration Officer. Pablo Vegas will serve in the Chief Restoration Officer role. Vegas will “support the work” of CRO Albanese, and will be accountable “for executing the restoration program, including pipeline replacement, customer mitigation and house readiness” as well as “community and customer support efforts in the region.” Perhaps NiSource needs fewer “chiefs” and more Indians?…
Continue reading

Columbia Gas Appoints Ret. Navy Captain to Oversee Disaster Recovery

More coverage in our ongoing coverage of the aftermath resulting from a chain-reaction of explosions in local natural gas delivery pipelines about 25 miles north of Boston (see Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25). The explosions and resulting fires tragically killed one teenager and injured 25 others. It left some 8,600 households and businesses without natural gas–for up to two months. Can you imagine not being able to cook meals, or heat your home, because of no natural gas? What will those people do in the meantime? Columbia Gas (part of NiSource), whose pipelines are the ones that exploded, began distributing some 7,000 electric hot plates over the weekend. Gov. Charlie Baker mobilized the Massachusetts National Guard to help. Since Gov. Baker also requested an “outside contractor” to take charge of the situation, Columbia announced they have appointed retired Navy Captain Joe Albanese, founder and CEO of Commodore Builders (a construction management firm) to become the Chief Recovery Officer in attempting to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Assisting Captain Albanese will be retired Rear Admiral Richard Cellon, president of Cellon and Associates. Cellon has loads of experience in construction in the Middle East–helping war-torn areas recover. It’s already getting cold in New England, so beginning this week Columbia has a hoard of electricians, plumbers, and “assessors” working to assess and install some 24,000 space heaters in homes. It’s no small feat. Local fire departments are involved to ensure the space heaters don’t create a fire hazard…
Continue reading

Subcontractor Working on Exploded Boston-area Pipes Identified

We continue to track the story we first brought you on Monday of this week, that late last week there was a chain-reaction of explosions in local natural gas delivery pipelines about 25 miles north of Boston (see Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25). The explosions and resulting fires tragically killed one teenager and injured 25 others. Local officials ordered some 8,600 residents and businesses in the three communities to evacuate–until Sunday. A major incident. The ramifications of this situation will go on for years. Although it’s still early in the investigation process, the cause of the explosions appears to be a combination of old/decaying pipes with too much pressure flowing through them. According to an NTSB spokesman, the early indicators are that a pressure sensor is the cause (see Pressure in Exploded Massachusetts Pipes 12X More than Normal). Here’s what *may have* happened: A pressure sensor that controls how much gas is pumped through local pipelines was attached to a portion of a pipeline that was capped at both ends and closed off. The sensor detected little-to-no pressure, so it signaled the system to keep increasing the pressure, to flow more gas. The pressure eventually reached 12 times what it should have been, and the older cast iron and steel pipelines couldn’t take it, resulting in explosions and fires. The question turns to who capped off the pipeline with the sensors? Who was working on pipelines in that community on that day? A Boston TV station tracked down the who…
Continue reading

Further Thoughts on Columbia Gas Disaster in Massachusetts

We spotted an announcement by Columbia Gas (subsidiary of NiSource) that says they are withdrawing a rate case–their request filed earlier this year with Massachusetts to increase natural gas rates by $33 million. Probably a good idea in light of the recent tragedy (see Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25). The rate case got us to thinking about the recent tragedy. It dawns on us that there’s a fair bit of irony in this tragedy–a lesson we can learn. For years political leaders in states like Massachusetts and New York, heavily influenced by radical environmentalists (afraid of their power and money) have trash-talked natural gas. Those leaders, people like Elizabeth Warren and Maura Healey in MA and Andrew Cuomo in NY, have told their constituents that natural gas is evil, it’s “dirty,” it’s unnecessary. “We don’t need more pipelines that will perpetuate another 50 years or more of dependence and reliance on these filthy fossil fuels” has been their message. And so, they are directly responsible for rejecting new pipeline projects to bring cheap Marcellus gas to New York and New England, on the theory that magical, unicorn-like “renewables” will ride in to save the day. “In fact…” (they say), “…if we only had ‘the will,’ we could end our use of evil fossil fuels right NOW, today. Certainly in another 10 or 20 years at most.” And then this explosion occurs, this disaster that killed one, injured 25 and burned some 80 homes and businesses. Columbia has pledged to replace 48 miles of underground delivery pipeline. In the meantime (please don’t misunderstand us here)–some 8,600 homes and businesses are now living what the politicians and radical environmentalists have preached for years–no gas. They are without gas for weeks–likely for months. Can you imagine no gas for your stove to cook with? No hot water for showers or laundry? And as the temps drop, no heat to stay warm? While we’re not excited nor happy to see this (quite the opposite), we’d like to ask those 8,600 homes and businesses–what do you think of your no-gas future now? Is this how you want to live, not only today, but 10 or 20 years down the road? Can you really live without natural gas? Perhaps this situation will give them, and us, a new perspective on all this senseless talk of replacing natural gas with renewables…
Continue reading

Lawsuits Begin re Columbia Gas Boston-area Pipe Explosions

Last Thursday a major accident occurred 25 miles northwest of Boston when natgas delivery pipelines owned by Columbia Gas (NiSource) in three communities exploded and caught fire at more than 80 locations (see Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25). The explosions and resulting fires tragically killed one teenager and injured some 25 others. Local officials ordered some 8,600 residents and businesses in the three communities to evacuate–until Sunday. A major incident. The ramifications of this situation will go on for years. Columbia Gas immediately pledged to replace all of the pipelines feeding homes and businesses in the three communities in the coming weeks and months. We expect it will be months before gas service is back online. In what is a worthy response (as well as good PR), Columbia yesterday pledged to donate $10 million to the the Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund to assist families affected by the blast. Our immediate thought was, “While this is a welcomed first step, don’t for a minute think Columbia is getting off cheap. The lawsuits haven’t even begun. In the end, this episode will cost Columbia, at a minimum, hundreds of millions. Maybe over $1 billion. $10M is chump change.” And by golly, a few minutes later we spotted a story that the first class action lawsuit has just been filed. It’s the first of what likely will be many…
Continue reading

Pressure in Exploded Massachusetts Pipes 12X More than Normal

Last Thursday a major accident occurred 25 miles northwest of Boston when delivery pipelines owned by Columbia Gas (NiSource) in three communities exploded and caught fire at more than 80 locations (see Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25). The explosions and resulting fires tragically killed one teenager and injured some 25 others. Local officials ordered over 8,000 residents and businesses in the three communities to evacuate–until Sunday. A major incident. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating. According to an NTSB spokesman, the early indicators are that a pressure sensor is the cause. Here’s what *may have* happened: A pressure sensor that controls how much gas is pumped through local pipelines was attached to a portion of a pipeline that was capped at both ends and closed off. The sensor detected little-to-no pressure, so it signaled the system to keep increasing the pressure, to flow more gas. The pressure eventually reached 12 times what it should have been, and the older cast iron and steel pipelines couldn’t take it, resulting in explosions and fires affecting more than 80 homes and businesses…
Continue reading

Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25

You don’t often think of the safety of the pipeline network that delivers natural gas to your home or business because it’s so rare there are any problems with it. When’s the last time you heard about a local delivery pipeline exploding? Last Thursday a major incident occurred 25 miles northwest of Boston when delivery pipelines owned by Columbia Gas (NiSource) in three communities–Andover, North Andover and Lawrence–exploded and caught fire at “more than 60 locations.” The explosions and resulting fires tragically killed one teenager and injured some 25 others. Local officials ordered over 8,000 residents and businesses in the three communities to evacuate, turning off electric and gas. Each house and business was then tested before turning electricity back on (gas is still off). Residents were finally able to return to their homes on Sunday. It’s a huge incident, a big, fat, stinking mess. Folks waited in lines for hours at claims centers to file requests for reimbursement for hotels and expenses after being displaced from their homes–only to have the claims centers close because Columbia couldn’t handle the numbers. On Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in the three communities. Later in the day on Friday, he invoked a little-used (and little-known) provision in the state constitution that allowed him to take management of the crisis away from Columbia/NiSource, giving management of the crisis to a competitor, Eversource. Although it’s still early in the investigation process, the cause of the explosions appears to be a combination of old/decaying pipes with too much pressure flowing through them. Attention has turned to pressure sensors along the pipelines. Yesterday Columbia/NiSource announced it will replace all 48 miles of the cast iron and bare steel pipeline system in that area. Meanwhile, the affected 8,000+ residents and businesses will not have gas service restored “for weeks” at a minimum…
Continue reading

Revolution Pipeline Explosion in W PA – What We Know So Far

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is taking the lead in investigating the Energy Transfer Revolution Pipeline explosion and fire that happened in Beaver County early Monday morning (see Revolution Pipeline Near Pittsburgh Explodes – Home & Barn Destroyed). The PUC issued an update yesterday outlining what they know so far about the incident. PUC Chairman Gladys Brown cautioned that it’s still too early to draw any conclusions, although the working theory is that there was a landslide in the area due to continuous heavy rain for weeks. Brown said the engineers and investigators need time to investigate. No instant answers. Continuing bad weather in the area has hindered the investigation. PUC pipeline safety engineers have, however, confirmed a few facts about the incident…
Continue reading

Revolution Pipeline Near Pittsburgh Explodes – Home & Barn Destroyed

Yesterday morning shortly before 5 am, a 24-inch gathering pipeline in Beaver County, PA (about 30 miles from Pittsburgh) caught fire and exploded. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, although a nearby home, barn and two garages were leveled by fire from the blast. The pipeline went online just last week, on Sept. 3. It wasn’t even officially/commercially online–it was still in testing phase. The exploded pipeline is part of Energy Transfer’s 100-mile Revolution Pipeline system. The pipe gathers dry and wet gas from local wells and delivers it to a cryogenic separating plant in Washington County, PA. From there, the separated methane goes into the Burgettstown Lateral of the Rover Pipeline (Burgettstown began service on Sept. 1). Following the explosion around 30 homes within a half mile were evacuated, but returned later in the day. Some 1,500 people in the area were without power for part of the day after six high-tension electric lines were toppled, either by the blast or the ensuring fire. A full investigation is now under way, but early indications are a “ground slip” (i.e. landslide) was the cause. That area has been pounded day after day with torrential rain, saturating the ground and causing multiple landslides in the area. Philadelphia antis (on the other side of the state) have already piled on, rubbing their hands with glee, pointing out Energy Transfer is the same company as Sunoco Logistics Partners–the company building the Mariner East 2 pipeline project. Antis are using a freak accident  and tragedy in the hills outside Pittsburgh to try and stop ME2 in the flat country of Greater Philadelphia…
Continue reading