EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSPIPELINE PROBLEMS
from Eyewitness News Online
Natural Gas Line Failures Happening All Across The U.S.
Reported by: Kennie Bass
Videographer: Matt Durrett
Web Producer: Kennie Bass
Also Contributing: Bob Aaron, Brad Rice
Reported: Dec. 12, 2012 5:56 PM EST
Updated: Dec. 12, 2012 6:15 PM EST
Sissonville , Kanawha County , West Virginia
As National Transportation Safety Board investigators comb through the Sissonville site looking for clues to the cause of the natural gas pipeline explosion, previous NTSB findings about accidents over the past decade reveal three causes of pipeline failure which pop up repeatedly. External corrosion, seam weld failure and cracks in wrinkle bends are the most common problems.
"As you look down into the crater there is a 20 foot, seven-inch gap in the pipe," Robert Sumwalt, a board member with the National Transportation Safety Board said.
The shocking suddenness of the Sissonville disaster could lead you to believe that these types of incidents are fairly rare. However, a study of similar occurrences shows they happen more often than you might think.
Since August 2002, when a natural gas pipeline exploded on Poca River Road, there have been 47 similar events across the country. 17 people died, dozens more were injured and several homes were destroyed. Although experts generally agree moving natural gas by pipeline is safer than by highway, barge or rail, things can still go wrong.
"We are aware that there have been some prior events and we're going to try and see if there's any relationship between this event and prior events," Sumwalt said.
The state Public Service Commission says natural gas companies are responsible for maintaining their pipelines.
"We go out to do a compliance audit looking at the company's safety records, their operational and maintenance records. We'll do valve check. We will make sure that they're running tests in the field that they say they are," Susan Small, with the West Virginia Public Service Commission said.
Experts say it's easy to see why pipelines are failing. More than half of the nation's pipelines have been in service for more than 50 years.
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