Scientists have damaged pipeline

Published 8:29 am Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sections of a gas pipeline that ruptured and caused a massive explosion and fire earlier this month have been sent to a specialized laboratory for closer examination.

Christopher Stockton, a spokesperson for Transco – the company which owned the pipeline – said specialists will take a close look at all aspects of the pipe and the resulting explosion.

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“The lab will take precise measurements to determine the point of origin of the failure and why it may have propagated into a rupture,” he said. “Tests include metallurgical checks for wall thinning, cracking, and material properties such as strength and hardness.”

Additional tests will be performed on the earth that surrounded the pipeline.

“Soil samples are sent to a separate laboratory for analysis to determine whether the soil in the area may have contributed to the failure,” he said. “All of these findings will be reviewed and used to identify the precise cause of the rupture. This process will likely take several months.”

Ruptures, Stockton said, are not common place and could only cite two such instances in the last 17 years.

“Our goal is zero incidents. That is what we strive for every day,” he said. “When ruptures do occur, it has a deep effect on all of us in the company because we work so hard to try to avoid them. Prior to this incident, the last rupture we had was back in 2008 in Virginia. Prior to that, the last onshore rupture was back in 1995 in Louisiana.”