EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSNTSB PRELIMINARY REPORT
from Eyewitness News Online
NTSB Report Says Pressure Alerts Occurred Before Sissonville Explosion
Reported by: Jeff Morris
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Reported: Jan. 16, 2013 3:24 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 17, 2013 10:43 AM EST
Sissonville , Kanawha County , West Virginia
A Columbia Gas controller received 16 pressure drop alerts from a control system 4.7 miles upstream from a pipeline explosion in Sissonville just before receiving a call from Cabot Oil and Gas about the rupture and fire.
The information was part of a preliminary report released Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB said the alerts indicated discharge pressure dropping on all three pipelines in the system that included the Sissonville pipeline that exploded.
In the report, the NTSB said the first call to 911 about the explosion was made by a person at a nearby retirement home at 12:41 p.m. Dec. 11. The first notification to the Columbia Gas control center came at 12:53 p.m. and was received from a Cabot controller who had received a report of a rupture and fire from a field technician who was near the accident location, the report said.
The preliminary report from the NTSB does not pinpoint a cause for the explosion, but it lays out facts it has established during the investigation. It said the rupture occurred in a pipe that was part of a pipeline segment installed in 1967. The ruptured segment was pressure tested twice in 1967.
In addition, the report said the 20-foot ejected section of the pipe contained no girth welds. It was fractured in the base metal along the entire longitudinal direction along the bottom of the pipe. The report also said the outside surface of the pipe was heavily corroded near the midpoint and along the longitudinal fracture. The thinned area of the pipe was 6 feet long and 2 feet around.
Three homes were destroyed by the fire, and several homes were damaged. Interstate 77 was closed in both directions for about 18 hours until the roadway surfaces were repaired.
In a statement responding to the NTSB report, Jimmy Staton, executive vice president of Columbia Gas Transmission, said Columbia would continue to work with the federal agency as the investigation continues and take "all of the steps necessary to ensure the safety of our pipeline system."
Staton also pledged commitment to help families in Sissonville affected by the incident and to work with organizations in the aftermath of the explosion.
"Most importantly, we recognize that part of helping Sissonville residents is delivering on our commitments to safe operations," Staton said. "As we continue to restore the facilities that were damaged in the incident, we assure you the transmission line will not be returned to service until the necessary repairs are made and thoroughly tested."
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