Pipeline Eyes Quick Restart after Fatal Blast

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 @ 09:11 AM gHale


After a pipeline explosion in Alabama killed one worker and injured five others Monday, Colonial Pipeline Co. the major fuel artery could reopen as early as Saturday.

The Monday blast occurred just miles from its biggest gasoline spill in nearly two decades in September. That spill caused a 12-day interruption in the flow of about 1.3 million barrels per day of the fuel from the refining hub on the Gulf Coast to the Northeast.

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The shutdown will restrict gasoline supplies to millions in the Southeast and possibly the Northeast.

Colonial executive Gerald Beck said the crew was putting in a valve in order to finish repairs related to September’s leak.

He said the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration currently has control of the site. The fire is still burning, and Colonial expects to be able to get into the site in the next day or two — and from there, determine how long a repair will take.

The 5,500-mile (8,850-km) Colonial Pipeline is the largest U.S. refined products pipeline system and can carry more than 3 million barrels of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel between the U.S. Gulf Coast and the New York Harbor area.

The company did not release the name of the worker killed in the incident.

Colonial said it would explore potential options to operate parts of its gasoline pipe, called line 1, and would evaluate shipping gasoline on the distillates pipe, line 2, which was briefly shut overnight by the incident.

During the September outage, the company shipped some gasoline on the line that usually transports diesel and jet fuels.

The governors of Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia on Tuesday issued regulatory waivers to allow easier transit of fuel.

One person was killed and five others hospitalized in the incident that occurred when a nine-man crew working on the line in Shelby County hit Line 1 with a large excavator known as a track hoe, Colonial said.

A representative for the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said investigators were on the scene.

The explosion took place in an unincorporated wildlife area outside Helena, Alabama. Colonial and the state’s forestry commission were leading the response.

Danny Ray, fire chief in nearby Pelham, Alabama, said at the news conference that they were able to contain the fire in part because nearby workers with bulldozers were able to build an earthen berm to contain the burning gasoline.



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