UPDATE: Corrosion Blamed For Sissonville Explosion

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UPDATE 3/10/2014 4:20 PM

Federal investigators blame corrosion for the 2012 pipeline explosion in West Virginia that destroyed several homes and cooked a stretch of Interstate 77.

The NTSB report says investigators found severe external corrosion reducing the thickness of the pipeline by seventy percent.

The pipeline was installed in 1967 and last inspected in 1988.

The report says the rupture likely would've been prevented if the pipeline had been inspected with an inline tool.

No one was seriously hurt when the buried 20 inch line owned and operated by Columbia Gas ruptured December 11, 2012 near I-77 in Sissonville.

A spokeswoman for Columbia's parent, NiSource says the company is committed to operating safely.


UPDATE: 07/31/2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - NiSource and a subsidiary are being sued by several Sissonville residents over a natural gas pipeline explosion.

The residents filed seven separate lawsuits alleging NiSource, Columbia Gas Transmission and several employees. The lawsuits allege that the defendants failed to "exercise due care" in maintaining the 20-inch pipeline.

The Charleston Gazette reports that the lawsuits were filed Monday in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

The pipeline ruptured on Dec. 11, 2012, and triggered a massive fire that cooked Interstate 77, destroyed several homes and damaged several others. There were no injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board has said the line showed signs of external corrosion and had thinned to about one-third of the recommended thickness in some spots.

NiSource did not immediately provide comment to The Associated Press.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 06/06/2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Federal investigators are releasing more than 1,400 pages of documents about a natural gas pipeline explosion in Sissonville, but they won't reveal the cause.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday's document dump will contain interview transcripts, photos and other facts collected during the continuing investigation.

They say conclusions about the explosion will come when the final investigation report is finished.

A 20-inch transmission line owned by Columbia Gas Transmission ruptured Dec. 11, 2012, near Interstate 77.

The blast hurled a 20-foot section of pipe more than 40 feet.

No one was killed or seriously injured. But the explosion and resulting fireball destroyed several homes and cooked a stretch of I-77.

A preliminary investigation found the decades-old pipe had corroded, losing 70 percent of its original thickness.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - State and local officials are marking West Virginia's new pipeline safety law.

Media outlets report that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin held a symbolic bill signing Monday at the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department. Tomblin had signed the bill into law on April 29.

The legislation raises state penalties for safety violations to federal levels.

Fines levied by the Public Service Commission increase from $1,000 to $200,000 per violation. Maximum penalties per incident jump from $200,000 to $2 million.

The law applies to an estimated 11,000 miles of pipeline that run within the state's borders. Federal rules apply to interstate transmission lines, such as the one in Sissonville that ruptured last December. No one was killed, but the resulting inferno destroyed a section of highway and four homes.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 12/28/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Local officials are asking regulators to go slow when it comes to restarting the natural gas pipeline that exploded in West Virginia earlier this month.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper and Deputy Emergency Services Director C.W. Sigman sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday outlining a number of concerns with the plan to restart the pipeline and asking for further study and testing before it is done.

Last week the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said the company could plan to restart the 26.2-mile segment of pipe after taking a number of steps including repairs and inspections.

The state Public Service Commission also gave the gas company a long list of demands that must be met before the pipe is restarted.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 12/18/2012 11:30 AM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Columbia Gas Transmission is working to restart a pipeline near the one that exploded last week near Sissonville and destroyed four homes.

The 30-inch line is within 200 feet of the line that ruptured, sparking a fire that cooked part of Interstate 77.

In a filing with the Public Service Commission, Columbia says a second 26-inch line that is nearby was restarted the night of the explosion. As gas began to flow back through that smaller line, workers patrolled the pipe on foot and helicopters.

The Charleston Daily Mail (http://bit.ly/UOkW99) says Columbia has a similar plan for the 30-inch line, which it hopes to restart Wednesday.

It's about 53 feet away from the exploded pipe, and Columbia says it can restart the flow without closing and disrupting traffic on I-77.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Update: 12/13/2012 6:45 P.M.

During discussions last year on Marcellus Shale drilling, West Virginia legislators were told last year by natural gas companies that safeguards are in place to prevent such a disaster.

Now, after Tuesday's natural gas pipeline explosion in Kanawha County, a local lawmaker believes that might have to be revisited.

"Are we putting the proper coatings on? Are they being applied properly?," says delegate Dan Poling, D-Wood County. "A lot of these things are sensitive to air pressure and moisture. When you're applying coating, you can't do it in December but you can do it in July."

The explosion also caused headaches for some legislators.

Sen. Donna Boley (R-Pleasants County) was returning from Charleston right after the blast, and to come back through Spencer and I-79 to return to her home near St. Marys.

Boley Thursday praised the efforts of the West Virginia Department of Transportation in getting the interstate back open again by Wednesday morning.


UPDATE: 12/12/12

The West Virginia Department of Transportation has announced on Twitter that all lanes of I-77 in Sissonville are now opened.


UPDATE: 12/11/2012 11:29 PM

One traveler says it looked like a scene out of a movie. Sissonville was rocked by a gas explosion early Tuesday afternoon, and drivers on I-77 were too close for comfort as the fire grew.

"Yeah I was scared and I was like let's get the heck out of here because we were uncomfortably close to the flame. No, I was scared because you didn't know what was going on and there were all these gas tankers around you. Yeah it was pretty terrifying," says Marietta resident Ben Keeler who drove up on the explosion on his way to Huntington.

At around 1 p.m. a gas pipeline exploded along Teresa Lane in Sissonville.

"Word starting filtering through the line of backed up traffic that it was by a nursing home so I thought wow, by a nursing home this could be really bad. And then we learned, pretty quickly actually probably through social media, that it was a pipeline had exploded so word started filtering pretty quickly and you know people were pretty on edge backed up on the traffic on 77," says Keeler.

An assault on the senses. Drivers stuck at the scene were overwhelemed at the sight of flames shooting hundreds of feet in the air and they could hear the gas leaking from the pipeline.

"I couldn't smell the gas but you could hear the sucking sound of the pipeline. It sounded like there was helicopters and airplanes. There weren't yet, but it was the sucking of the pipeline. It sounded like the propellers of a helicopter. It was loud," says Keeler.

The scary situation has caused major damage forcing commuters to detour around the explosion site.

"It will be a short-term nuisance, but I think it's a small price to pay for what happened. I think we can all be happy that it wasn't worse or that we're ok for a couple days of inconvenience. I think that's the last thing that I'm worried about and it's the last thing that everybody should be worried about, frankly," says Keeler.

No one died in the explosion, but five people were treated for smoke inhalation and four homes were destroyed.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin says everyone within 1000 feet of the disaster area has been evacuated.

"Once I got back and was looking on the news and the computer it really is a miracle that the damage wasn't as bad as they said. Because everybody that was there had you seen the flames and you see the road now. You know it really is amazing and I think it makes everything think about how fortunate we are," says Keeler.

An 800-foot section of the interstate was damaged in the blast. I-77 is closed from the Charleston split to the Pocatalico/Sissonville exit.

It's expected to reopen sometime Wednesday morning. Extra crews have been called in to help with the repairs.


A major gas line has exploded in Kanawha County, near Sissonville, which is about 15 miles north of Charleston.

WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin updated the situation from Sissonville High School shortly before 5:00pm Tuesday.

The explosion happened around 12:45 Tuesday afternoon, on a 20 inch pipeline that ran under Interstate 77.

4 homes were destroyed , and 5 were damaged.

There are no reports of any fatalities at this time, but there were anywhere from 2 to 5 people taken to area hospitals for smoke inhalation.

People in a 1,000 foot area have been evacuated, and there is a shelter opened for them.

Interstate 77 was damaged extensively in an 800 foot section.

Crews will be working through the night, and the hope is to get the interstate re-opened sometime Wednesday evening.

The Sissonville Fire Chief says patients at a nursing home not far from the blast are safe and all the burning structures appear to be residential.

The pipeline has been shutdown at this time.


The West Virginia Department of Transportation has offered the following detours as a result of this explosion.

Southbound Traffic:

Will be detoured at Ripley: WV Route 62 to US 35 then to I-64 at Parkersburg: US 50 to Clarksburg to I-79

Northbound Traffic:

I-79 to Clarksburg then to US 50
I-64 West to US 35 to WV Route 62


Press Release from Senator, Jay Rockefeller

"This was clearly a terrible and dangerous explosion, and first and foremost my thoughts are with those on the ground right now working to keep people out of harm's way. As details continue to emerge, my focus as Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee - where I have made pipeline safety a top priority - is on what went wrong. I'm in close contact with state and federal officials, as well as the company involved. It's important that the National Transportation Safety Board is launching a team imminently to conduct a thorough investigation into how and why this happened, and that the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will soon have someone on the scene. I will continue monitoring today's developments, with hope for everyone's continued safety, as we await a determination of the cause of this accident."



UPDATE: 12/11/2012

SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - A major gas line has exploded in West Virginia, burning five homes and shutting down a stretch of Interstate 77 in Sissonville.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper says flames shot 50 to 75 feet high before the fire was put out around 2 p.m. on Tuesday. He says it's not yet clear whether anyone has been hurt.

Sissonville Fire Chief Tim Gooch says patients at a nursing home not far from the blast near Sissonville are safe.

Gooch says all the burning structures appear to be residential. He says the heat and fire were so intense that firefighters couldn't immediately get close.

State Police Sgt. Michael Baylous says the blast occurred about 12:40 p.m. Tuesday. Crews were working to shut off the pipeline.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 12/11/2012

SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - Five homes are burning and part of Interstate 77 is shut down in both directions near Sissonville after a major gas line explosion.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper says flames are shooting 50-75 feet high. He says it's not yet clear whether anyone has been hurt.

Sissonville Fire Chief Tim Gooch says a nursing home is less than a mile from the site of the blast, but the patients are safe. He says they're sending paramedics in just to be sure.

Gooch says all the burning structures appear to be residential. He says the heat and fire is so intense that firefighters can't get close.

Sgt. Michael Baylous says the blast occurred about 12:40 p.m. Tuesday.

Kanawha County emergency officials said crews are working to shut off the pipeline.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


ORIGINAL STORY:

SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia State Police say several structures are on fire and about a mile of Interstate 77 is shut down in both directions near Sissonville after a major gas explosion.

Sgt. Michael Baylous says it's unclear whether anyone has been hurt.

The explosion occurred around 12:40 p.m. Tuesday, and firefighters and other first responders were rushing to the scene. Kanawha County emergency officials said crews are working to shut off the pipeline.

Baylous said details are sketchy, but there is a nursing home near the site of the explosion along Tupper's Creek.

Sissonville is about 5 miles north of Charleston.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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