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Problems found near Appomattox blast site



Preliminary findings by federal inspectors charged with investigating the rupture of a natural gas pipeline in Appomattox show some measure of metal loss near the failure, according to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 a corrective order issued last week to the company that operates the line.

The order also listed concerns with corrosion-control systems along the line, and required the operator, Williams Gas Co., to lower the pressure in the two lines that run adjacent to the one that ruptured until a complete evaluation is done.

The exact cause of last month’s pipeline rupture, which sparked a devastating dev·as·tate  
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.

2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark.
 fireball fireball, very bright meteor leaving a trail in the sky that can remain visible for several minutes; often a distinct sound, perhaps caused by very low frequency radio waves, is associated with it.  and leveled two homes, is not yet known. It is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Agency Overview
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) was created under the Norman Y. Mineta Research and Special Programs Improvement Act (P.L. 108-426) of 2004. President Bush signed the legislation into law on November 30, 2004.
, the agency that issued the Sept. 25 corrective order.

The natural gas pipeline that runs through Appomattox is part of the Transco line, which extends from the Gulf of Mexico Noun 1. Gulf of Mexico - an arm of the Atlantic to the south of the United States and to the east of Mexico
Golfo de Mexico

Atlantic, Atlantic Ocean - the 2nd largest ocean; separates North and South America on the west from Europe and Africa on the east
 to New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
, including 858 miles in Virginia.

Under normal operation, gas is pushed through those lines at 800 pounds per square inch Noun 1. pounds per square inch - a unit of pressure
psi

pressure unit - a unit measuring force per unit area
. Williams immediately lowered the pressure to 670 psi after the Sept. 14 explosion. The corrective order requires Williams to lower it to 640 psi, which the company did last week.

The order also outlines the steps needed to return the three natural gas lines to full service.

“Most of the items covered were things we already planned to do,” Christopher Stockton, spokesman for the company, said Thursday.

Stockton said that the company will have a public meeting before pressure is restored, a move that is not expected before late November.

Patricia Klinger, spokesperson for PHMSA PHMSA Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration , the federal oversight agency, said the measures outlined in the corrective order are “reassuring us that the line is safe when it goes back into service.”

The investigation is ongoing, she said. The ruptured section of pipe went to a metallurgy metallurgy (mĕt`əlûr'jē), science and technology of metals and their alloys. Modern metallurgical research is concerned with the preparation of radioactive metals, with obtaining metals economically from low-grade ores, with  lab, where scientists are trying to determine what may have caused or contributed to the failure.

The B line that crosses Virginia 26 just north of the town of Appomattox failed at 7:44 a.m. on Sept. 14, a Sunday. The natural gas it released ignited a fireball that burned an area 1,125 feet in diameter, according to preliminary findings in the order. Twenty-three families were evacuated. Two homes were destroyed. Five people were hurt, none

seriously.

The explosion blew a 30-foot section of pipe out of the ground and across Virginia 26. The neighboring neigh·bor  
n.
1. One who lives near or next to another.

2. A person, place, or thing adjacent to or located near another.

3. A fellow human.

4. Used as a form of familiar address.

v.
 lines did not appear to be damaged in the blast, the order said.

The 30-inch B line, installed in 1955, is coated with asphalt enamel and protected by a light electrical current applied to prevent corrosion. The neighboring A and C lines are protected the same way.

Measurements called “pipe to soil potentials” taken in 2006 were low — an indicator, Klinger said, of the effectiveness of the protection. The company took steps to boost those readings in 2007, but it is unclear if that helped, the corrective action A corrective action is a change implemented to address a weakness identified in a management system. Normally corrective actions are instigated in response to a customer complaint, abnormal levels if internal nonconformity, nonconformities identified during an internal audit or  order said.

“(Inspectors) were concerned that it wasn’t properly protected,” Klinger said.

Last October, the agency issued a Notice of Probable Violation and Proposed Civil Penalty, alleging that five of Williams’ devices that apply slight electrical current to the pipes to prevent corrosion were not operating properly. One of those devices was 3.8 miles from the explosion site, the order said. Another was less than 20 miles.

The A line was inspected in 2000, leading to the replacement of a 36-foot section near the failure site. Lines B and C were inspected this year and a 200-foot section of the C line was replaced, according to the order.

Williams has inspected both the A and C lines since the explosion and they appear to be in good condition, Stockton said. Pipeline inspectors reviewed the data collected from the inline inspection tool for all three lines, prompting them to dig up 20 places where repairs might be needed starting three miles south of the explosion site and going 60 miles north.

“We are examining the pipe in those locations to ensure it is safe and making repairs as needed as needed prn. See prn order. ,” he said.

The families of Linda Jamerson and Calvin Childress — the two whose homes were destroyed — have been placed in temporary or permanent housing, Stockton said.

“We are working with all affected homeowners to ensure their concerns are addressed. We are in the process of arranging home inspections, home repairs, water well and septic septic /sep·tic/ (sep´tik) pertaining to sepsis.

sep·tic
adj.
1. Of, relating to, having the nature of, or affected by sepsis.

2.
 analysis for homes which may have been affected.”

Stockton said he can’t comment on any settlement issues.

“We want to protect the privacy of all affected landowners and any discussion about settlements is considered private and confidential,” he said. “However, I can say that we are working with landowners to determine any losses and damages they incurred due to the incident.”

Read a Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration report on the Williams Transco pipeline at: 

http://media.gatewayva.com/lna/specials/appomattox-pipeline-report.pdf
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:Carrie J. Sidener
Publication:The News and Advance
Date:Oct 3, 2008
Words:808
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