Those with the Kanawha County Commission along with members of Kanawha County’s Emergency Management Team are not satisfied with the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration’s Corrective Action Order.
The order, signed last week by the federal agency, spells out what Columbia Gas Transmission must do to put the 20-inch gas line that exploded earlier this month near Sissonville back into service. That order includes: repairing the line, lowering the amount of pressure on the line, a total review of the history of the pipeline and excavation to determine the condition of the rest of the line.
C.W. Sigman, Kanawha County’s Deputy Emergency Manager, is working on a response to the Administration’s order. “We don’t want to take any chance at all, of any kind, to recharge that line and put somebody in harm,” says Sigman.
Officials with the Safety Administration are still not sure of the age of the section of pipe that blew. The original line was put in in 1951. It was extended in 1955 and there were some upgrades in 1992.
An initial determination by the NTSB determined that part of the section of the pipe that exploded was only .78 of an inch thick.
Sigman says, before the Administration allows the pipeline to go back into service, the county wants to make sure there’s no chance of another explosion.
“We would really like to have the pipe dug up and whatever is necessary to verify that it’s going to be safe before you ever put pressure back on it,” explains Sigman. Ideally, he says the county is hoping Columbia will replace the pipe with a brand new line.
The fear is there could be other areas of the pipe that are just as thin as the one that exploded.
“Sad as it was that people lost their homes,” says Sigman. “They didn’t lose their life. We don’t want to take a chance of it being worse next time.”
Sigman hopes to get that letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration within the week.