An Enbridge natural gas pipeline ruptured and caused a huge explosion in Lincoln County, Kentucky early Thursday morning. The explosion left one person dead and five others hospitalized, and caused the evacuation of residents from a nearby trailer park. The explosion was large enough that it showed up on weather radars.
The pipeline in question is the Texas Eastern Transmission pipeline. It’s not yet clear how the failure occurred and what caused the explosion. Local officials say there is an ongoing investigation to determine the cause.
Carl Weimer is the executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust. He says Enbridge’s number of incidents per mile of pipeline has gone up over the past five years, particularly in regard to the Texas Eastern pipeline.
“We have looked at the instant trends for that company, for those natural gas lines, and they have had a number of failures in the past few years. So that's kind of concerning that their incident rate seems to be increasing,” says Weimer.
He says that’s not the only thing his group is concerned about.
“The causes are kind of concerning too, because about 70% of those significant incidents are from things that the pipeline companies say that they ought to be able to control, things like corrosion, bad welds, and bad equipment, and incorrect operation of the pipeline,” he says.
Weimer adds, “it's really too early to know whose fault this failure was or what caused it or what could've prevented it.”
Enbridge did not make anyone available for an interview, but sent this written statement:
“Enbridge is aware of and is responding to a rupture on the Texas Eastern system near Danville, Lincoln County, Kentucky. Our first concern is for those impacted by this incident and ensuring the safety of the community. Our teams are coordinating with first responders to secure the site. We have isolated the affected line and are working closely with emergency responders to manage the situation. We will provide more information as it becomes available.
We understand that the coroner is reporting a fatality. Out of respect for those impacted, we cannot provide any additional information. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those impacted by this incident. For additional information we would refer you to the County Emergency Management Association.”
Editor's note: Enbridge is one of Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors.