When pipelines explode there is no shortage of news reports covering the drama surrounding the blast and the blaze. But we rarely learn what happens after the fire is out and the TV cameramen have all gone home?
On December 3, 2011, a Williams-Transco pieline ruptured in Alabama. The explosion was heard more than 30 miles away and flames shot up nearly 100 feet in the air for 90 minutes after the pipeline was shut off. Since 2006, Williams-Transco has had 35 PHMSA reportable accidents. You can see a video and read an eye-witness account HERE.
The pipe was a 36″ diameter gathering line. A 43 foot long section blew up and became a missile that landed 190 feet away from the blast site and traveled over the tops of 70 to 80 foot high trees to get to its final resting place.
One landowner who grows a sustainable pine forest in the area of the blast lost 65 acres of trees. Below is a portion of an email from this landowner:
I grow a sustainable pine forest on the land that has the pipeline running through it. At this time I have an estimated loss of 65 acres of trees. I have found no one that can tell me the long term effects to the soil. My best guess is that I have 5 acres of soil that is like fired clay pottery. The particles are actually hydrophobic. There were no injuries. I know they had run a pig through the week prior but had not received the data back form the contractor. Three days after the explosion they had some data back and they started making three more digs for repairs.
Hydrophobic means the clay pottery land now sheds water. Another American landowner, his family and their property has been sacrificed to shale gas.
I’ve scoured the internet and emailed reporters and I can find no follow up reporting on the aftermath and none of my emails have been answered.
Williams did some pigging just before this pipeline rupture but they didn’t receive the pigging results until after the explosion. The word from the locals in Alabama is that Williams is now frantically digging up parts of this same pipeline in several different locations which could indicate the problem is not isolated.Williams does not have a good track record of pipeline safety.