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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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PHMSA Says Leach XPress Still in Danger, Issues 13-Pt To-do List

Earlier this week MDN told you that TransCanada’s Leach XPress, a 160-mile natural gas pipeline (and compression facilities) located in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle, was back online after experiencing an explosion in early June in Marshall County, WV (see Leach XPress Pipe 100% Back Online Following June Explosion). The investigation into why it exploded found the reason to be a “land slip” (i.e. landslide). Disturbingly, Columbia (the division of TransCanada that built and operates Leach XPress) told the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which investigates these kinds of incidents, there are six other spots along the pipeline that are “areas of concern” based on soil conditions, steep slopes or indications of slips. Not good. Just coming to light now–on July 9, PHMSA issued a list of 13 to-dos or “corrective actions” that Columbia must perform if it wants to keep Leach XPress up and running. We have the to-do list below…
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Fracking Acid Leaks from Truck in Ohio, Forces Brief Evacuation

A spill of hydrochloric acid on Monday in Weathersfield (Trumbull County), Ohio caused a brief evacuation of three hours for 23 homes and several businesses in the area. Nobody was hurt. The acid was stored in a tanker truck. The trucking company, Predator Trucking, is headquartered in Texas but maintains a regional operation in Weathersfield. Predator is a shale subcontractor hauling various liquids, including hydrochloric acid, used in fracking. The truck in question has two chambers that hold 2,500 gallons each. A valve became corroded on one of the chambers and while the truck was parked at the company’s facility, all 2,500 gallons leaked out. It created a vapor cloud and the concern was that it may shift, hence the evacuations, out of “an abundance of caution.” This accident points out one of the negatives of fracking. Oil and gas extraction is an industrial process that uses industrial chemicals hauled by trucks to drill sites. If a truck gets in an accident, or there is equipment failure, bad things can happen. But we hasten to add, in having observed and written about the Marcellus/Utica for nearly 10 years now, this is the first such incident we can recall of hydrochloric acid leaking. In other words, this type of accident is extremely rare. And thanks to the fast action of local first responders, there were no injuries. The acid was contained inside temporary dams, and soaked up with sand. The dirt the acid leaked into has been dug up and removed. Predator is now on the hook to pick up the cost–which no doubt will be considerable…
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Leach XPress Pipe 100% Back Online Following June Explosion

TransCanada’s Leach XPress is a 160-mile natural gas pipeline (and compression facilities) located in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle. Leach XPress flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky–hence the name. The pipeline went online January 1st, and a section of it exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). What caused the explosion? TransCanada (aka Columbia Pipeline) said it was a “slip”–what we call a landslide (see Columbia Says Landslide Caused Leach XPress Explosion/Fire in WV). The good news is that the 1.5 Bcf/d pipeline is now fully fixed and back online, as of Sunday, although it’s not yet flowing at full capacity. According to Genscape, pipeline “nominations” (reservations to move gas) were at 1.15 Bcf yesterday. That will likely increase in the coming days, back to full capacity. One comment about this story caught our eye–something we’d not seen or heard before: Columbia told the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) there are six other spots along the pipeline that are “areas of concern” based on soil conditions, steep slopes or indications of slips (i.e. landslides)…
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Accident: CNG “Virtual Pipeline” Truck Rolls Over in Upstate NY

One of the arguments/concerns used to defeat a facility near Binghamton, NY that would fill trucks transporting CNG to large customers not lucky enough to be located close to a natgas pipeline is that the trucks used to haul the CNG are “bomb trucks.” Just waiting to explode if they should be in an accident. And you know that sooner or later there will be an accident. NG Advantage had big plans to build a virtual pipeline (gas compression & trucking facility) on the outskirts of Binghamton, in the Town of Fenton. The facility would use gas from the Millennium Pipeline to fill trailers outfitted with a series of CNG canisters. We sat through several information sessions where the safety of those trailers was explained. We looked at one of the rigs, up close and personal. We recall one woman from Hillcrest screeching “It’s so BIG!” upon seeing the tractor trailer–which is much shorter than a standard tractor trailer rig. We heard NG explain that if a truck should be so unfortunate to be in an accident, the safety design would automatically release the gas, which dissipates into the atmosphere immediately–making an explosion or fire extremely unlikely. But facts make no difference in a heated, emotional debate. NG isn’t the only company attempting to service businesses in Upstate with CNG, to compensate for Cuomo’s ban on safe pipelines. Another company, Xpress Natural Gas (XNG), has a virtual pipeline operation based just south of Binghamton in Susquehanna County, PA. Things are so much easier in PA (sigh). An XNG truck was traveling through Otsego County, NY, when the truck overturned on a rural roadway. We thought, this is it. Major explosion, right? Scorched earth everywhere. Ball of fire. Driver burned to a cinder. But no, none of that happened. In fact, NOTHING HAPPENED. The truck overturned, and there it sat until it was pulled back upright again. Perfectly safe, as designed. Which illustrates and exposes the lies so often spread about virtual pipeline operations…
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Columbia Says Landslide Caused Leach XPress Explosion/Fire in WV

TransCanada’s Leach XPress is a 160-mile natural gas pipeline (and compression facilities) located in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle. Leach XPress flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky–hence the name. The pipeline went online January 1st, and a section of it exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). TransCanada (their Columbia Gas Transmission subsidiary) is working hard to get the pipeline back online by “mid-July” (see Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Won’t be Online Until Mid-July). What caused the explosion? That’s been the burning question (no pun intended) since it happened. A stray comment we spotted seemed to indicate it may have been a faulty welding job. But apparently such is not the case. Columbia has told federal regulators that a landslide is the cause of the leak and explosion…
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Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Won’t be Online Until Mid-July

Leach XPress Pipeline explosion/fire on June 7

TransCanada’s Leach XPress project–some 160 miles of new natural gas pipeline and compression facilities in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle which flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky (hence the name)–went online January 1st. A section of the pipeline exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). Still no word on what caused the explosion, although the investigation seems to be centered on a welded seam. TransCanada (and their Columbia Gas Transmission subsidiary) is working hard to get the pipeline back online. The company told shippers in mid-June they expected to have the full 1.5 Bcf/d pipeline back online “early in July” (see TransCanada Says Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Back Online in July). That’s not going to happen since it’s now early July. Last Friday, Columbia pushed back the date to “mid-July,” due to challenges in getting everything remediated and fixed because of heavy rain in the area. Meanwhile, the drillers using Leach continue to find other ways to get their gas to market…
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Another ME2 Mud Spill at Snitz Creek, Another Hysterical Reaction

Sunoco Logistics Partners was drilling horizontally underneath Snitz Creek in Lebanon County, PA for its Mariner East 2 Pipeline project when it experienced yet another “inadvertent return”–nontoxic drilling mud leaking out of a place where it shouldn’t. Sunoco spilled five gallons of nontoxic drilling mud. This is the third time it’s happened in June, and the sixth time it’s happened at the Snitz Creek location in total. Predictably, antis were hysterical. Hysterical, not as in funny, but hysterical as an insane, out-of-control overreaction. Theatrics. Drama. That kind of hysterical. The reaction from antis is organized by “green” groups–in particular by one person from a local green group calling itself Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County. Five gallons of nontoxic drilling mud (the same stuff used to make kitty litter and lipstick) is, quite literally, NOTHING. We’ve seen 5 gallon spills of very toxic gasoline at the local gas station that went unnoticed. Gasoline is far more “toxic” to the environment than what’s happening at Snitz Creek. Why do drilling mud spills keep happening at the Snitz Creek location? Obviously the ground in that area is porous. Every time Sunoco drills under the creek another few feet, drilling mud pops out and drilling activity gets shut down, yet again. This is a recurring situation. We don’t know what the solution is, but not building the pipeline (which is 99% done) is not one of the options. Hopefully Sunoco can find a solution quickly so we can put this ongoing, manufactured, and tiresome drama queen theatrics behind us…
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TransCanada Says Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Back Online in July

TransCanada’s Leach XPress project–some 160 miles of new natural gas pipeline and compression facilities in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle which flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky (hence the name)–went online January 1st. A section of the pipeline exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). TransCanada (and their Columbia Gas Transmission subsidiary) is working feverishly to get the pipeline back online. As of last Friday, the Stagecoach-LXP meter, which ties into the Strike Force South gathering system station, was back up and flowing, up to 190 million cubic feet per day (see Part of Leach XPress Pipe Up and Running Following Explosion). The company told shippers earlier this week they expect to have the full 1.5 Bcf/d pipeline back online “early in July.” Still no word on what caused the explosion, although a stray comment we read leads us to speculate…
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Part of Leach XPress Pipe Up and Running Following Explosion

Leach XPress explosion location – click for larger version

Last Thursday MDN reported that TransCanada was working to restore partial service to the Leach XPress Pipeline (see TransCanada Working to Restore Partial Service on Leach XPress Pipe). Leach XPress only came online in January. The pipeline experienced an explosion and fire on June 7 (see Leach XPress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). Most of the 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of Marcellus/Utica gas flowing through the pipeline was stopped. As of Friday, the Stagecoach-LXP meter, which ties into the Strike Force South gathering system station, was once again flowing, up to 190 million cubic feet per day. Which means Monroe and Belmont counties (OH) are now reconnected and flowing. As for the rest of the pipeline and its various metering stations, it’s all still shut down with no word on when it will be repaired and back online. There’s still no word on what caused the explosion in the first place…
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