News this morning that an oil pipeline managed by Enbridge exploded caught fire outside Minnesota. Two workers were killed in the blast fire.
Now, normally I wouldn’t pick up on a story like this however, this is an example of how an accident in the wrong place at the wrong time can have a domino effect. This was a leak that was under repair when the accident happened. It does serve as an example of how badly things could possibly go wrong if security of critical infrastructure were to be compromised.
Enbridge closed four pipelines that supply an average of 1.5 million barrels a day after a blast yesterday killed two workers. The company said today a fire is still burning at the Clearbrook terminal in Minnesota where the pipelines meet.
“It’s an important pipeline and it’s also where it’s being hit, these pipeline junctions are a nightmare,” said Rob Laughlin, a senior broker at MF Global Ltd. in London. Oil “could go up further if it’s shut for some time.”
Crude oil for January delivery gained as much as $4.55, or 5 percent, to $95.17 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That’s the biggest gain since Oct. 31. The contract, which gained for the first time this week, traded at $94.24 at 10:45 a.m. in London.
“All our lines are shut down until we can safely start up the system,” Denise Hamsher, a spokeswoman for Calgary-based Enbridge, said today by telephone. “At least one or two lines will be shut down for quite sometime.”
ABCNEWS.com (Magellan Geographix) http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/blast000821.htmlPipeline TragedyFlames Turned Sand Into Glass
The Saturday morning explosion of the 30-inch pipeline was Visible about 20 miles to the north in Carlsbad, N.M.
August 21, 2000
The victims belonged to two extended families camping at a site near the Pecos River when the pipeline exploded 500 feet away. Burning fuel rained down from the sky onto the victims, federal officials said.
Some had been fishing along the river’s banks, their lanterns set up to light their way, officials said. Others had been asleep. Officials said they would have had no chance to escape the flash of fire that caught them between the river and the exploded gas line.
Witnesses say the blast sent a ball of flames into the sky.
“It reminded me of something you see on TV, like when there’s a war going — when there’s been some bombs dropped or something,” said Saul Ray Sanchez, assistant chief of the Loving Fire Department, close to the blast site. “It looked devastating.”
Sanchez, one of the first firefighters on the scene, said he saw a scorched car. The heat from the explosion completely melted away the tires. The heat was so intense it turned sand into glass and part of a concrete bridge structure turned into powder.
August 20, 2000
‘A Huge Ball of Fire’ http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/blast000820.html
The 30-inch pipeline exploded around 5:30 a.m. Saturday, and left a crater about 86 feet long, 46 feet wide and 20 feet deep. Police say the resulting fire probably lasted 30 to 40 minutes. It reportedly was visible about 20 miles to the north in Carlsbad, N.M.Virtual Flamethrower
Authorities said one end of the ruptured line became a virtual flame-thrower, showering fire on the victims camped beneath a bridge about 200 yards away.
State Police Capt. John Balderston said… “I’ve never seen anything like this,” he added. “We’ve had some tragedies but this is the worst I’ve seen.”
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSSURVIVAL FACTORS GROUP CHAIRMAN’S FACTUAL REPORT, Revision 1 October 18, 2001 http://www.viadata.com/ntsb/227190.pdf
Carrier: El Paso Natural Gas Company
100 North Stanton St. El Paso, Texas 79901-1442
Location: El Paso Natural Gas Pipeline Pecos River Crossing Adjacent to Route 725, Eddy County, New Mexico
Date: August 19, 2000
Time: 0530 Mountain Daylight Time
About 0530, the El Paso Natural Gas transmission pipeline ruptured near the point where the pipeline crosses the Pecos River, adjacent to New Mexico State Route 725 in Eddy County, New Mexico. After the rupture, a natural gas fire started and burned for approximately 51 minutes. The fire destroyed three pickup trucks that were parked in the vicinity and miscellaneous camping equipment.
As a result of the fire, seven adults, three children and two infants were fatally injured.
Timber Heady, female, 6-months was found on the east river bank near the north side of the El Paso Natural Gas Company Pecos River Bridge. The cause of death was extensive thermal burns.
Tamber Heady, female, 6-months was found on the east river bank near the north side of the El Paso Natural Gas Company Pecos River Bridge. The cause of death was extensive thermal burns.
Kelsey Heady, female, 21-months, was found on the east river bank near the north side of the El Paso Natural Gas Company Pecos River Bridge. The cause of death was extensive thermal burns.
Dustin Smith, male, 3-years, was found in the interior of a 1978 Ford pickup truck which was parked south of the east end of the El Paso Natural Gas Company, Pecos River Bridge. The cause of death was extensive thermal burns and smoke inhalation.
Terry Smith, male, 23-years, was found approximately 40 feet south of the east end of the El Paso Natural Gas Company Pecos River Bridge. The cause of death was extensive thermal burns and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Jessie Don Sumler, male, 55-years, was found approximately 92 feet south of the east end of the El Paso Natural Gas Company Pecos River Bridge. The cause of death was extensive thermal burns with charring and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Six persons who temporarily survived the fire entered the Pecos River from the east bank at the bridge. All were located ¼ mile downstream on the west bank by an El Paso Gas Company employee and emergency responders. Four persons died later on August 19, 2000. Two persons survived for longer periods of time.
Glenda Sumler, female, 47-years died on August 19, 2000 at University Medical Center, Lubbock, Texas. According to the Lubbock County Medical Examiner, the cause of death was 50 percent total body surface burns with severe inhalation injuries.
Roy D. Heady, male, 20-years died on August 19, 2000 at University Medical Center, Lubbock, Texas. According to the Lubbock County Medical Examiner, the cause of death was 80 percent total body surface burns.
Amy Heady, female, 18-years died on August 19, 2000 at University Medical Center, Lubbock, Texas. According to the Lubbock County Medical Examiner, the cause of death was 90 percent total body surface burns. The upper airways showed burn injuries.
Bobby Smith, male, 43-years died on August 21, 2000 at University Medical Center, Lubbock, Texas. According to the Lubbock County Medical Examiner, the cause of death was 60 percent total body surface burns.
Kirsten Sumler, female, 5-years died at 2134, August 19, 2000, shortly after arrival at Shriners Hospital, Galveston, Texas. According to the prosector (sic) of the Department of Pathology, Shriners Hospital, Galveston Texas, the cause of death was 80 percent total body surface burns of which 65 percent were 3 rd degree burns.
Amanda Sumler Smith, female, 25-years died on September 5, 2000 at University Medical Center, Lubbock, Texas. According to the Lubbock County Medical Examiner, the cause of death was complications of burns. The medical examiner noted that she developed acute pneumonia and defused alveolar damage (hyaline membrane disease- adult respiratory distress syndrome).
Pipeline Companies Settle Suits Over Bellingham Explosion
OLYMPIA, Washington, December 12, 2002 (EN -
Two pipeline companies will pay a total of $36 million in fines and millions more on safety improvements in a settlement involving a 1999 explosion that killed three young men.
Three employees found culpable in the gasoline spill and pipeline explosion could also face fines or jail time for their roles in the fatal accident.
The gasoline pipeline explosion near Bellingham, Washington sparked a fireball that killed three young men. (Photo courtesy Olympic Pipeline)
The criminal portion of the case, finalized Wednesday, resulted in the largest penalty ever handed down for a pipeline explosion. The civil suit, expected to be finalized next week, will require the Olympic Pipe Line Company and Equilon Pipeline Company to pay some $76 million to strengthen their safety and inspection programs.
In 1999, Equilon was the majority owner of Olympic, which owned and operated the pipeline outside Bellingham, Washington. A break in the pipeline sent 236,000 gallons of gasoline into the Whatcom and Hannah creeks in June 1999.
Eighteen year old Liam Wood was fly fishing in the creek, and drowned after being overcome by the gasoline fumes. Two 10 year old boys, Stephen Tsiorvas and Wade King, were playing on the bank of the creek when the gasoline caught fire, burning both boys fatally.
In October, the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the explosion resulted from an excavation project completed in 1994, five years before the pipe ruptured, and from inadequate pipe inspections.
Whatcom Creek was a healthy ecosystem before the Bellingham pipeline explosion. (Two photos courtesy the City of Bellingham)
Eight months ago, the families of Tsiorvas and King reached a settlement with Olympic, Equilon and others worth $75 million. A separate settlement was reached with Woods' family for an undisclosed amount.
Under the plea agreements announced Wednesday in U.S. District Court, Olympic pled guilty to a felony violation of the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act and a misdemeanor count of the Clean Water Act. The company will pay $6 million in penalties and remain under corporate probation for five years.
Olympic president Lawrence Peck said the company believes "this is a fair and just settlement and that it brings us all closer to moving beyond this terrible tragedy."
Equilon - now owned by the Shell Pipeline Company - pled no contest to a felony violation of the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act and no contest to a misdemeanor count of the Clean Water Act. Equilon will pay $15 million in fines and remain under corporate probation for five years.
In a joint statement, Equilon's managers said they hope that "resolution of the criminal case will help continue the healing process for the families and communities that were so deeply affected by this tragedy."
After the explosion, vegetation on the creek banks was scorched and the creek ran gray with soot.
The three former Olympic employees found guilty in the case will be sentenced on April 11, 2003. Frank Hopf, a former Olympic vice president and manager pled guilty to failing to "establish and conduct a continuing training program," a felony violation of the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act, and could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Ron Brentson, a former Olympic supervisor of product movements pled guilty to the same violation as Hopf, and faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Kevin Dyvig, a former operations controller who was working in Olympic's control center at the time of the accident, pled guilty to one misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act, and faces up to one year in jail and a $100,000 fine.
In the civil case to be settled next week, Olympic has agreed to pay $5 million and spend an estimated $15 million for new safety programs along its 400 mile pipeline. Equilon will pay $10 million and spend about $60 million on safety programs.
The civil suit settlement is contingent on finalizing the Washington Department of Ecology's civil penalties issued against Olympic and Equilon. Washington and the Bellingham area are expected to receive $20 million or more from the settlement for pipeline safety improvements and environmental projects.
"Most of the money will be invested in environmental projects in Bellingham, where this disaster occurred," said Tom Fitzsimmons, director of the Department of Ecology.