Pipelines Explode!

 These photos show the fire and damage from the Williams-Transco gas pipeline explosion in Appomattox, VA in 2008. The flames were 300 feet tall. The blast zone had a 1,125 foot radius. The pipeline, installed in 1955, was 30 inches in diameter and operated at 800 psi. Two homes were destroyed. Five people were injured, and another 100 homes suffered damage. Corrosion of the pipe caused the explosion. Williams was ultimately fined $1 million for improper pipeline maintenance. Is that enough?


Blast Radius

Today we face much greater threats by the industry’s rush to build larger diameter pipelines operating at higher pressures. The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), would be 42 inches in diameter, operating at 1400 psi.  The chart below shows the blast radius of a 42 inch pipeline operating at 1400 psi at 1100 feet. Data from actual blasts indicate the blast radius estimates are off by as much as 50% as indicated by the blast radius of the Appomattox explosion.



One would believe new pipelines would be safer than older ones, but a recent analysis of Federal data completed by the Pipeline Safety Trust indicates new pipelines are failing at an even higher rate. Gas transmission lines installed in the 2010’s had an annual average incident rate of 6.64 per 10,000 miles, greater than the pre-1940’s pipes which had an incident rate of 6.08 per 10,000 miles. “Last year, more than 700 pipeline failures killed 19 people, injured 97 and caused more than $300 million in damage. Two of the past five years have been the worst for combined pipeline-related deaths and injuries since 2000.” (