The rupture occurred on the 60+ year old 24” diameter Transco pipeline owned and operated by Williams Partners at 9:40 p.m. in Jordan Township, near Unityville and Lycoming’s border with Columbia County.
Some media reports have stated initially there was a fire which was quickly extinguished.
Scott Carney, a Williams Spokesperson said “”We need to make sure the investigation is thorough and we fully understand it so we can use that investigation to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Although the pipeline that ruptured was at least 4 decades old, company officials say pipelines don’t age — and it’s maintained according to federal standards.
Please note: the Transco was commissioned in 1950, making it not 4 decades old, but rather 6 ½ decades old (65 years). Williams Partners need to update their talking point by 2 ½ decades.
These statements by Williams Partner may seem familiar, and they are. They are the same statements issue by Williams Partners following the 2008 explosion of the Transco in Appomattox Virginia, the 2011 explosion of the Transco in Marengo County Alabama and in response to the Pipeline & Hazardous Safety Agency (PHMSA) told Williams to fix its pipeline safety methods in 2012.
Obviously, given the Williams Partner’s track record of pipeline explosions going back decades, Williams Partners still doesn’t understand it and is doing little to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
File It under “W” for WTF
Readers may have blinked twice or even thought the “pipelines don’t age” talking point was a typo of some sort.
It’s not. It all depends on how pipelines are defined and how weasel words are used to diffuse concerns and confuse the public.
Pipelines in fossil fuel corporation speak refer to the Pipeline system as a whole, whereas the public looks at a pipeline as a series of connecting pipes. Without making this distinction, corporations, such as Williams Partners are free to claim “pipelines don’t age”.
More often than not, the reason for a pipeline section to rupture or explode is due to exterior corrosion. Corrosion is a sign of “aging”.
Of other concern are the thousands of miles of leaking natural gas and oil pipes with outdated materials still in use, such cast iron and bare steel pipes used to construct the pipeline.
According the FracTracker Alliance, Oil and Gas Explosions are fairly common. In 2013, the FracTracker Alliance calculated that there was an average of 1.6 pipeline incidents per day in the United Sates. That figure remains accurate, with 2,452 recorded incidents between January 1, 2010 and March 3, 2014, a span of 1,522 days. (Also see: Pipeline Incidents Updated and Analyzed)
Pipeline systems may not age, but the physical pipes and equipment in that system do age, corrode, leak and explode.
© 2015 by Dory Hippauf