Owner of PA Natural Gas Facility that Exploded Has Lengthy Record of Pipeline Safety ViolationsMar 30th, 2012 | By fjgallagher | Category: Lead Articles, Natural Gas Explosions
Williams Partners L.P., the owner/operator of the natural gas compressor station that exploded yesterday in northeastern Pennsylvania has a history of serious natural gas pipeline safety violations, according to records obtained by NaturalGasWatch.org.
The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a Corrective Action Order to Williams Partners on Dec. 6, 2011, in connection with a massive natural gas explosion that occurred in Marengo County, Alabama, on Dec. 3, 2011, on the company’s Transco pipeline. The facility that exploded in Pennsylvania yesterday fed pressurized natural gas into the Transco pipeline.
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From the federal order:
On December 3, 2011, one of the five parallel natural gas pipelines in Transco ruptured in Marengo County, Alabama. The force of the rupture created a large crater and propelled a 47- foot, 3-inch piece of buried pipe more than 200 feet away. The releasing gas also ignited and continued to burn for several hours, causing damage to one of the adjoining pipelines and scorching approximately eight acres of surrounding property.
As a result of the incident and the subsequent investigation, PHMSA noted that Williams, “has not determined whether the conditions that caused the failure exist on other portions of Transco,” and determined that the continued operation of the Transco pipeline, “would result in likely serious harm to life, property, and the environment.”
This corrective order was in effect at the time of yesterday’s explosion at the Pennsylvania compressor station and remains in effect currently.
In addition, other Williams companies have been cited by PHMSA for natural gas safety violations, including:
- June 24, 2011 – Williams Partners subsidiary, the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Co. LLC, fined $23,800 by PHMSA for failure to conduct annual inspections of natural gas compressor stations in Texas and Louisiana.
- March 5, 2012 – Williams Partners subsidiary, the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Co. LLC fined $50,000 by PHMSA for failure to follow its own, internal policies related to controlling external corrosion in natural gas pipelines running through the New York City borough of Staten Island.
Moreover, the existing Corrective Action order under which Williams is currently operating is not the company’s first; on Sept. 25, 2008, PHMSA issued a Corrective Action Order to the Williams Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Corp. in connection with a Sept. 14, 2008, natural gas explosion near Appomatox, Virginia, that destroyed two homes and seriously injured five people.
PHMSA closed this Corrective Action Order on Nov. 3, 2011.
Williams did not respond to inquiries about these violations from NaturalGasWatch.org.