PUC Pipeline Safety Division Working To Investigate Beaver County Pipeline Explosion

The Public Utility Commission this week said personnel from its Pipeline Safety and Electric Safety Divisions are currently working to investigate and address issues related to the Energy Transfer Partners (parent company to Sunoco Logistics) natural gas pipeline explosion in Center Township, Beaver County on Monday.

A 24-inch natural gas gathering pipeline owned by Energy Transfer Partners put into service on September 3 exploded early Monday morning destroying a house, barn and several vehicles.

Energy Transfer Partners was quoted by the Associated Press Monday as saying “earth movement” amid heavy rains was responsible for the explosion of the newly constructed pipeline.

A landslide was blamed as the cause of another explosion of a newly constructed TransCanada natural gas pipeline in West Virginia in July.

“Safety is a priority for the Commission, and our engineers – who were on-site soon after the incident was reported – are focused on determining exactly what happened and why it occurred,” said PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “We appreciate the hard work of emergency crews from throughout the region who responded this morning without hesitation, and the residents and businesses impacted by this incident are very much on our minds.”

PUC Pipeline Safety engineers are coordinating with local emergency responders to gain access to the scene, so they can begin efforts to identify the nature and cause of the incident.

The Commission is also working with utilities in the region to determine the potential impact on any other systems or facilities.

There has been some confirmed damage to high voltage electric transmission and distribution lines and towers located near the incident site.

The PUC’s Electric Safety Division and Bureau of Technical Utility Services are in communication with FirstEnergy/West Penn Power and Duquesne Light regarding the repairs of those facilities and restoration to impacted customers.

The electric utilities reported limited, localized customer interruptions as the utilities were able to re-route power around the damaged area.

As a policy, I&E does not comment on details of investigations until they result in enforcement action or a formal petition or complaint filed before the Commission.

Findings So Far

Pipeline Safety Engineers have confirmed the following:

-- The incident involved a 24-inch natural gas gathering line located in Center Township, Beaver County, operated by Energy Transfer Partners. Gathering lines are pipelines used to transport crude oil or natural gas from production sites to collection or transmission sites.

-- The pipeline is in what is known as a Class 3 location. Location classification (Class 1 through 4) is based on population density near the pipeline, per federal standards – with Class 1 lines located in the most lightly populated areas and Class 4 lines located in the most densely populated areas.

-- The pipeline falls under the jurisdiction of the PUC’s Pipeline Safety Division based on Act 127 of 2011, the “Pipeline Act,” which expanded the Commission’s authority to enforce federal pipeline safety laws as they relate to gas and hazardous liquids pipeline equipment and facilities within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

-- The pipeline was recently constructed and was in the process of being energized when the incident occurred.

-- The pipeline was pressure tested in 2017 and 2018.

-- The investigation by the PUC’s Pipeline Safety Division will examine all aspects of construction and operation, to identify the nature and cause of the incident.

-- The PUC continues to coordinate with Beaver County Emergency Management, the Department of Environmental Protection and other utilities operating in the area around the incident site.

-- Any potential investigations by other state or federal agencies would be separate and independent of the PUC pipeline safety investigation.

Call For Construction Halt

Rep. Christopher Quinn (R-Delaware) issued a statement in reaction to the explosion calling for an immediate halt to all pipeline construction activities on Energy Transfer Partners Mariner East Pipelines.

“Today’s pipeline explosion in Beaver County was a graphic illustration of my worst fears – and the fears of many local residents – related to the construction of the [Energy Transfer Partners’] Mariner East pipeline.

“While I am relieved to know that no injuries occurred, I also realize that this area of Beaver County is far less dense than the pipeline corridor in Delaware County. A similar incident in my district could be even more destructive and have a greater human toll.

“Therefore, I am calling for an immediate halt to all pipeline construction activities.  This pipeline should not be built until the real and legitimate safety and environmental concerns raised by myself and local residents have been fully addressed.

“It is the responsibility of Sunoco Logistics and Energy Transfer Partners to prove that the tragedy that happened today in Beaver County – including the evacuation of residents and closure of a school – could never happen in our community.  If they are unable to do so, then this pipeline should not be built.  Public safety must be the top priority.”

(Photo: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)


Litvak: Who Gets To Say Where It’s Safe To Build A Pipeline? (Beaver County Explosion)

AP: Pipeline Owner Blames Beaver County Explosion On Earth Movement

Frazier: Part Of Energy Transfer Partners Pipeline Shut Down During Investigation After Explosion

Landslide May Have Triggered Massive Gas Pipeline Explosion In Beaver County

Heavy Rain Contributed To Beaver County Pipeline Blast

Unfazed By Pipeline Explosion, Beaver County Township Removes Setback Ordinance

Lawmakers Call For Halt To Mariner East Pipeline Construction

AP: Explosion Of 24-Inch Energy Transfer Partners Natural Gas Pipeline Rocks PA Community

Reuters: Energy Transfer Says Natural Gas Pipeline Fire Put Out In PA

Phillips: Natural Gas Pipeline Blast In Beaver County Prompts Evacuation

Pipeline Blast, Fire Leads To Evacuations In Beaver County

Early-Morning Gas Line Blast Forces Evacuations In Beaver County

Evacuations Underway After Gas Line Explosion In Beaver County

Crable: Weather Delays Opening Of Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, Landscaping Work In Lancaster County

Hurdle: FERC Urged To Block Tree-Cutting Before Final Decisions On PennEast Pipeline

Federal Court Tosses Delaware RiverKeeper Challenge To Transco Pipeline

Engineer: PennEast Pipeline Could Complicate Penn Forest Wind Project In Carbon County

[Posted: Sept. 11, 2018]


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