Pipeline system called safe in explosion’s wake

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Pipeline system called safe in explosion’s wake

Columbus Dispatch – When the steel arteries blow, they create a huge hole while scouring the surrounding area with a searing fireball and destructive shock wave.

But calamities such as Wednesday’s explosion of a major natural-gas transmission line in rural Morgan County are infrequent.

The 36-inch pipeline operated by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. ruptured for as-yet-unknown reasons. A spark, possibly from static electricity or nearby power lines, ignited the gas, setting three houses and two barns afire and injuring two people.

Ohio is crisscrossed with 10,240 miles of natural-gas transmission pipelines, some of which deliver gas to local utility distribution lines. Other lines direct their high-pressure streams to other states.

Before the pipeline blew on Wednesday — leaving a 30-foot-wide, 15-foot-deep crater — Ohio had experienced 22 serious pipeline incidents since 2001. In them, one person was hurt and property damage totaled $3.3 million…

The number of pipelines is expected to grow with the increased use of horizontal drilling and “fracking” to extract natural gas, and the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill last month to strengthen pipeline-safety standards and impose larger fines for violations.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, called on the House of Representatives yesterday to also pass the bill.

“Ohioans should have confidence that natural-gas pipelines throughout our state are safe,” Brown said.

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