Williams Natural Gas Line Ruptures in West VirginiaMar 23rd, 2013 | By fjgallagher | Category: Lead Articles, Natural Gas Leaks
A major natural gas gathering pipeline owned and operated by the Williams Companies ruptured earlier today in West Virginia, according to recent media reports, just days after the company rejected safety recommendations from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in connection with controversial new natural gas pipeline of similar diameter proposed for New York City.
Natural gas gathering pipelines move methane from the wells in the gas fields to processing facilities, where it is then move downstream via natural gas transmission lines. Natural gas gathering lines operate essentially unregulated by federal agencies.
According to a report published the Thompson Reuters news agency, a 24-inch natural gas gathering line ruptured at around 12:20 p.m. this afternoon in rural Marshall County, West Virginia. There were no injuries.
Williams officials issued a statement about the rupture several hours after the incident occurred, noting the area was “safe and secure.”
From the Williams statement:
Local emergency-response authorities reported no injuries or third-party damage as a result of the rupture, which vented natural gas with no ignition or fire. Local emergency personnel evacuated nearby residents as a precaution for about two hours.
Williams officials are onsite and beginning the process of determining why the pipe failed (the company has reported the pipe failure to state regulators). The company expects to begin repairs on the damaged section of pipe as soon as next week.
The damaged pipe is 24 inches in diameter. It is part of a natural gas gathering pipeline system that serves Williams’ gas-processing plant in Ft. Beeler, W.Va. The rupture temporarily affects service in a 7-mile section of the system, which typically carries 100-120 million cubic feet of gas daily.
Williams spokesperson Tom Droege would not say how much methane was released into the atmosphere as a result of the leak.
The pipeline rupture in West Virginia comes just days after the company rejected a key safety recommendation put forward by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in connection with the Williams’ effort to win approval to build a natural gas pipeline through coastal National Park land into New York City.
The Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Co. (Transco), a division of Williams Partners LP, filed an application on Jan. 7 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seeking permission to build the controversial new natural gas distribution pipeline. Known as the Rockaway Lateral Line, the proposed 26-inch, high-pressure natural gas pipeline would run across wetlands in Jamaica Bay, through Jacob Riis Park beach and Floyd Bennett Field – where a new compressor station would be built – and on into Brooklyn near Flatbush Ave.
On Feb. 5, the USACE asked Williams for additional information about the proposed Rockaway pipeline, and recommended that the undersea portion of the line be buried at a depth of at least four feet.
In its subsequent response, Transco disputed that recommendation, noting that in the company’s experience, a three-foot depth has been adequate in the past and pointing out that the additional excavation would delay the project.
From the Transco response:
To achieve the additional 1-foot of cover Transco would be required to excavate additional area on the sea floor which would increase both sedimentation and turbidity impacts over the current proposal and potentially result in a longer period for offshore construction. …
Also, Transco has extensive experience constructing and operating offshore pipelines. Throughout Transco’s offshore system the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has required 3 feet of cover for other projects in state and federal waters. Therefore, we believe our design balances full protection of the pipeline while minimizing environmental impacts. …