Williams Oak Grove explosion in Marshall County, WV 2014-04-05

In which Williams admits subsidence can cause a gas pipeline explosion. So does an even larger (36-inch vs. 12-inch) pipeline through the fragile karst sinkhole-prone limestone of the Floridan Aquifer for the Sabal Trail pipeline connected to Williams’ Transco sound like a good idea? Especially considering pipeline companies aren’t held accountable for the expense of their explosions, leaving local and state governments to pick up the tab?

Jeff Jenkins wrote for MetroNews 5 April 2014, Resident describes natural gas line explosion in Marshall County,

“It was a very loud explosion. I got up and looked out the window. It sounded like a plane, like a jet engine liner was going over the top of my house,” Fork Ridge Road resident Roger Dobbs told MetroNews Saturday. “I looked out the back window and you could see the smoke flying high in the sky and the flames going up.”

The site is about a mile from Dobbs’ home. The line is owned by a subsidiary of Williams, LP and carries unprocessed natural gas from production wells according to a statement from the company.

Emergency officials initially believed the rupture may have been caused by a mudslide. The line was isolated and the fire was brought under control with an hour of the blast. There were no injuries. Residents living along Middle Grave Creek and Waymans Ridge were asked to evacuate their homes. Fire stations in Glen Dale and Cameron were opened as shelters.

Dobbs said there has been a lot of rain in recent days but something else may have contributed to the rupture.

“There’s a lot of subsidence here. A lot of mining went on in this area, longwalling,” he said.

Oh, yeah:

Company officials praised Marshall County first responders for their work at the scene.

Williams didn’t say its praise would extend to money to reimburse the local and state governments for dealing with Williams’ screwup.

And guess what! Casey Junkins wrote for Shale Play 25 April 2014, No Action Against Williams For Marshall Pipeline Blast,

MOUNDSVILLE—Although the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection declared the April 5 Williams Energy natural gas pipeline rupture an “explosion” resulting in fire that scorched trees over a 2-acre area, the agency found no groundwater contamination.

Therefore, DEP spokesman Kelley J. Gillenwater said the event that forced residents along Middle Grave Creek Road to evacuate amid the blast and fire will not result in a citation against Tulsa, Okla.-based Williams.

What about PHMSA, the federal pipeline safety agency? Remember, unless somebody was killed or injured, it’s not even a reportable incident. Well, “the loss of more than $50,000 in product” would also count, but Williams could just declare they didn’t lose that much.


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