Preliminary report outlines first findings of Sissonville explos - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Preliminary report outlines first findings of Sissonville explosion

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A report from an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board in last month's gas pipeline explosion in Kanawha County found that Columbia Gas received 16 drop-in-pressure alerts prior to another pipeline controller sending notification to Columbia Gas's control center.

The preliminary report released Jan. 16 doesn't offer much that hasn't already been uncovered regarding the pipeline explosion at Sissonville, but it does summarize facts collected so far.

"The first call to 911 was made by a person at a nearby retirement home at 12:41 p.m.," the report states. "The first notification to the Columbia Gas control center was received from a Cabot Oil and Gas (Cabot) controller who had received a report of a rupture and fire from a field technician who was near the accident location. The call to Columbia Gas from Cabot came in at about 12:53 p.m."

The 16 pressure drops alert were sent from the Lanham Compressor Station just under five miles from where the rupture occurred.

Columbia responded with a statement on the preliminary report.

"We will continue to work in close collaboration with the NTSB as the investigation continues," Columbia Gas wrote in a prepared statement. "Columbia is committed to a thorough and complete analysis of all factors potentially contributing to the incident. Based on that analysis, we will continue to work with the NTSB and PHMSA -- as well as state and local officials -- to take all steps necessary to ensure the continued safety of our pipeline system. We will also implement appropriate measures based on the recommendations from the NTSB into our infrastructure modernization plan."

The report basically summarizes a number of facts that have come to light in the days and weeks following the explosion.

The report says at 12:41 p.m. on Dec. 11, a 20-inch diameter line owned by Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. ruptured near W.Va. Route 21 and Derricks Creek. About 20 feet of pipe was separated and ejected more than 40 feet from its original location.

The explosion occurred, the National Transportation Safety Board report states, despite operating well below advised maximum operating pressures. Deterioration of the 1967-era pipeline segment was largely attributed to corrosion of the outside surface of the pipe. An area of the pipeline had thinned to about 0.078 of an inch.

According to the report, fire damage extended more than 1,000 feet along the pipeline in an area about 820 feet wide. Three homes were destroyed, and other homes received damage.

Interstate 77 was also damaged and closed in both directions for about 18 hours while crews cleared the crusted roadway.

The first notification of the fire, the preliminary report states, was received from a controller of another gas company.

Columbia also emphasized that it continues to work affected residents whose property was destroyed in the explosion. There were no fatalities or injuries as a result of the incident.

"As we continue to restore the facilities that were damaged in the incident, we assure you that the transmission line will not be returned to service until the necessary repairs are made and it is thoroughly tested," Columbia stated.  "We are committed to working with federal, state and local officials, the Sissonville community and our customers to appropriately restore service to our transmission line and make additional upgrades to enhance the reliability of our system across our entire footprint."

Columbia added in its statement that it is committed to modernizing its infrastructure.