Tag Archives: PHMSA

My son was killed in a pipeline explosion –Paul W. McCorkle

A comment on Other Hazards 30 June 2014:

My son was killed in a pipeline explosion 7-5-10. There are many old lines that are only a few inches in the ground, because of years because of top cover erosion. A shallow covered gas line is more dangerous than an exposed one!!! This was the case of my accident. After the accident, several lines in my immediate area were found to be totally exposed!!! What about the ones that are not covered to the proper depth and are seldom inspected. The federal pipeline administration is a joke. They have no idea how to do their own investigation, the rely on the pipeline companies to tell them what happened or what to do. As it has been said, THE PIPELINE COMPANIES ARE FUNDING TO MUCH MONEY TO THE AGENCIES THAT REGULATE THEM.

Paul W. McCorkle

For those who have not heard about that very unfortunate event, WDRW.com wrote 5 July 2010, Continue reading My son was killed in a pipeline explosion –Paul W. McCorkle

Williams Transco explosion in Appomattox Virginia 2008-11-14

Almost $1 million PHMSA fine to Williams Transco for safety regulation violations that let corrosion continue until a pipeline exploded near Appomattox, Virginia in 2008, taking out two homes and injuring five people, with local and state governments footing the bill as usual for the pipeline company failure. Yet Transco let much the same thing happen again in 2011 in Marengo County, Virginia, after which even PHMSA said “Transco has a history of cathodic protection [corrosion] concerns on other segments.”

The Lynchburg News & Advance wrote 11 August 2009, Company fined in Appomattox pipeline explosion, Continue reading Williams Transco explosion in Appomattox Virginia 2008-11-14

Pipeline compressor station map

How big is the U.S. pipeline network? 510,917 miles, according to PHMSA’s National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS).

According to the Q4 2010 newsletter of Pipeline Open Data Standarrd (pods.org, you can get this map of pipelines and compressor stations through PHMSA’s National Pipeline Mapping System. Should it be suprising when some of these compressor stations leak or some of this half-million miles of pipe explodes?

Has anybody ever heard of an exploding solar panel?


More Williams Company Surprise incidents

Apparently pipeline companies are the last to know that pipelines can be dangerous, even after Williams Co’s four strikes this year. Maybe they should stop believing their own propaganda. And why do pipeline companies get four strikes and they’re still not out, anyway?

Dory Hippauf wrote for No Fracking Way 8 May 2014 Williams Co Has Gomer Pyle Moment,

Recently, the Williams Company, the 4th largest pipeline operator in the US, experienced 3 accidents in rapid succession between Feb-Apr 2014.

As reported by Bloomberg news “Williams Reviews Safety After Fire, Explosions at Gas Plants“, May 1, 2014:

“Certainly, this has come as a big surprise to our organization,” Chief Executive Officer Alan Armstrong said on a conference call with analysts today. “We are conducting very thorough investigations into each incident to determine if there’s any common or root cause.”

Why it comes as a big surprise to CEO Armstrong is, well, surprising. It’s well known that pipelines and related infrastructure do have spills, leaks, fires and explosions resulting in property damage, injuries and deaths. At a time when fossil fuel corporations are expanding and building new infrastructures and pipelines, safety, not profits, should be the foremost consideration.

Follow the link for the list of Williams Co. incidents, which includes many more than these few big ones from 2014:
  1. PHMSA deputized Oregon PUC to investigate three-month Williams Co. methane leak, starting 10 January 2014
  2. Williams fire and explosion near Plymouth, WA 2014-03-31
  3. Williams Oak Grove explosion in Marshall County, WV 2014-04-05
  4. Williams explosion and fire, Opal, WY 2014-04-23

That’s four “abnormal operations” or accidents so far in 2014 alone. In baseball only three strikes and Williams would be out. Why does a pipeline company get nothing but PR out of all this?

What’s an actual accident or “abnormal operations” anyway? PHMSA uses definitions from the American Petroleum Institute (API), and requires pipeline operators to put out propaganda according to API guidelines. Maybe Williams CEO Alan Armstrong actually believed that API propaganda.

The No Fracking Way article also notes:

According to Tom Droege, Williams Co. spokesperson, as stated in an email, over the last five years, Williams has had a lower rate of incidents on its pipelines than the industry average, he said, citing federal statistics.

Hm, so if Williams has fewer than the industry average, where does Spectra rank?

Droege failed to mention the industrial average was 1.6 pipeline incidents per day, so what does a “lower rate of incidents” really mean?

And who ever heard of a solar panel leak or explosion? What say we cancel the pipeline and go straight to faster, cheaper, safer, job-creating solar power.


PHMSA abnormal vs. accident

Apparently an actual fire or explosion may (or may not) count as an accident according to PHMSA, but there’s a huge gap in PHMSA’s definitions: they don’t seem to say they apply to methane. And guess whose Public Awareness Program PHMSA requires pipeline operators to follow?

According to PHMSA’s Glossary and Definitions,


A release of the hazardous liquid or carbon dioxide transported that results in any of the following:
  1. explosion or fire not intentionally set by the operator.
  2. release of Continue reading PHMSA abnormal vs. accident

Williams fire and explosion near Plymouth, WA 2014-03-31

A two-mile evacuation ratio around a Williams fracked methane facility in Oregon, and once again a state agency investigates while federal PHMSA does nothing, same near Plymouth, WA, as on Sauvie Island, OR.

Kristi Phil reported for the Tri-City Herald 31 March 2014, UPDATE: Evacuation radius near Plymouth plant to be reduced,

It’s unknown when Plymouth residents will be able to return to their homes after an explosion and fire at a nearby natural gas facility Monday morning triggered fears of a second, larger explosion.

Up to 1,000 residents and agricultural workers were evacuated from a two-mile radius around Northwest Pipeline in south Benton County after the explosion, which caused slow leaks from a massive storage tank and injured five people.

Hazardous materials experts entered the liquefied natural gas facility Monday afternoon for the first time nearly eight hours after the initial explosion and fire inside a building at Northwest Pipeline, a subsidiary of Williams Partners.

Claire Graham and Emily Bowman reported for KNDO 23 and KNDU 25 1 April 2014, Fire and Explosion at Natural Gas Plant near Plymouth,

Pipeline safety investigators from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission are responding Continue reading Williams fire and explosion near Plymouth, WA 2014-03-31

PHMSA deputized Oregon PUC to investigate three-month Williams Co. methane leak

Unless somebody dies or is injured, it’s not a reportable incident, says the federal agency in charge of investigating fracked methane pipeline safety. PHMSA finally deputized a state Oregon safety organization after three months of leaks from a pipeline owned by Williams Company, also owner of Transco, the first pipeline in the Transco -> Sabal Trail -> FSC chain to the sea through Alabama and Georgia to LNG export from Florida.

Lynne Terry reported for Oregon Live 10 January 2014, Safety switch triggers natural gas leak on Sauvie Island,

Williams spokesman Tom Droege said gas spewed into the air in a controlled manner for about 70 minutes. He said Williams personnel switched the gas flow to a secondary line. The station is now operating normally.

Gas service was not interrupted during the leak and no one was injured, Droege said.

The company apologized for inconvenience to residents. Households were evacuated and the bridge was closed in response to the leak.

Three months later, Continue reading PHMSA deputized Oregon PUC to investigate three-month Williams Co. methane leak

Questions from SpectraBusters, Inc. to FERC

FERC’s ecomment system was malfunctioning, so Beth emailed this on behalf of the board, which unanimously approved it earlier that same day. She also forwarded it to John Peconom of FERC and to her U.S. Rep Ted Yoho (FL-03) and to Rep. Sanford Bishop (GA-02). Here is contact information for your elected officials and candidates. -jsq

From: Beth Gordon
To: efiling <efiling@ferc.gov>
Date: Sat, Apr 19, 2014 6:05 pm
Subject: PF14-1 Sabal Trail Pipeline

To Whom it may Concern at FERC:

I am the President of a group of citizens and landowners from Alabama, Georgia, and Florida affected by the Sabal Trail Pipeline. Here are some important questions we hope you will answer for us. We have had no answers from FERC representatives at any other time. These are the questions we would like answered:

  1. Is lack of justification of energy need by Florida sufficient for FERC staff to recommend denying a permit for the Sabal Trail pipeline? Continue reading Questions from SpectraBusters, Inc. to FERC

Methane pipeline blew up onto Florida Turnpike next to high school

Five years ago a natural gas pipeline blew up between the Florida Turnpike and I-95, flying a 104-foot piece of 18-inch pipe through the air, shutting down both roads, and fortunately missing a high school. NTSB determined it was the fault of the pipeline operator, Florida Gas Transmission Company, LLC (FGT).

Ruptured pipeline and Florida Turnpike --WPTV5

The Accident: $606,360 Damage/Clean-Up Cost FGT was written up by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in NTSB/PAB-13/01 of 13 August 2013 for “Damage/Clean-up Cost: $606,360” in this 4 May 2009 incident near Palm City, Florida:

Rupture near Palm City

Probable cause: cracking, failure to manage, SCADA failure The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was environmentally assisted cracking under a disbonded polyethylene coating that remained undetected by the integrity management program. Contributing to the accident was Florida Gas Transmission Company’s failure to include the pipe section that ruptured in the integrity management program. Contributing to the prolonged gas release was the pipeline controller’s inability to detect the rupture because of SCADA system limitations and the configuration of the pipeline.

So NTSB said it was FGT’s fault.

And Florida and Martin County taxpayers had to pay for Continue reading Methane pipeline blew up onto Florida Turnpike next to high school

Question the Sabal Trail pipeline in Osceola County 2014-02-10

Update: 10 Feb 2014: Watch it online or go to one of several other upcoming county commission meetings.



Valdosta, 6 February 2014 — Local landowner Monica Martin will speak to the Osceola County Commission about the proposed Sabal Trail methane gas pipeline and its effects on the aquifer, native wildlife, and the landscape, plus property values and property rights. Other local citizens may also speak in the same "Hear the Audience" section (turn in a "Request to Speak" form before the meeting). Anyone from anywhere can come listen, or protest against the pipeline outside.

When:  1:30 PM
Monday, February 10
th 2014

Where: Administration Building 4 th Floor
One Courthouse Square
Kissimmee, Florida 34741

Why: Spectra Energy, which had compressor station leaks in Maine last month and in Pennsylvania last year, plus multiple fines by Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for corrosion and leaks, and a record $15 million EPA fine for PCB contamination, proposes a hundred-foot-wide gash through our lands for their huge 36 inch Sabal Trail gas pipeline from Alabama through Georgia to feed Florida Power and Light (FPL) and Duke Energy for no benefit to local citizens and rate hikes for FPL customers. A one-time payment is not enough Continue reading Question the Sabal Trail pipeline in Osceola County 2014-02-10