Pipeline Rupture Ignites Fire in MO


Investigations are underway into the cause of a gas pipeline explosion and resulting fire Tuesday night (Nov. 29) in Platte County, MO.

The rupture occurred around 6:30 p.m. in a 10-inch pipe carrying a mix of ethane and propane in an area about four miles north of Kansas City International Airport, sources said.

The pipeline is owned by Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners and operated by its subsidiary, Mid-America Pipeline Company, the Associated Press reported.

Enterprise Vice President of Public Relations Rick Rainey confirmed the company had responded to the site, initiated an emergency protocol, and isolated the affected segment of the pipeline.

‘Large Orange Fireball’

Sergeant Jeffrey Shanks, of the Platte County Sheriff's Office, told News-PressNow.com he was close enough to the airport at the time to have seen the explosion. He described seeing “a large orange fireball that went up in the air followed by a large plume of smoke,” the news site reported.

Although the flames from the subsequent blaze were said to be visible from miles away, area residents said they felt nothing at the time of the blast.

Witness Jennifer Hill described seeing the fire: “Well it was dark out here, but when we looked to the north all we could see were flames up above the trees, and we know from where we were at the trees are quite tall so we knew those flames were huge. And it lit up the night orange and there was smoke everywhere.”

No evacuations were required as a result of the fire or smoke, and flights at the nearby airport were also not affected.

"You know you kind of worry about the integrity of the pipeline and where it goes through but you've got to trust that the people that built it built it safely," resident Twila Everett told station KSHB.

Rural Location

Because the affected section of pipeline was buried in a rural field with no homes or buildings nearby, there was limited damage and no injuries were reported, according to the local Fox affiliate.

However, the isolated location on private property also meant emergency crews had limited access to the site, according to the Sheriff's Office.

At the time of the incident Shanks told Fox 4 News, "We are just trying to keep the area contained, we are trying to have a perimeter set up, directing traffic to allow the fire crews to do what they need to do, have the gas company get in and get the pipeline shut down and access for damages and repairs."

Responding fire crews indicated the fire was under control by 8 p.m., having mostly burned itself out, and Enterprise said pressure had been shut down on both sides of the line to avoid flareups.

As of Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 30), reports indicated that a large crater had been left behind by the blast and officials were continuing to monitor the area, as some fire continued to burn.

Enterprise officials indicated crews would begin the evaluation and repair processes after the remaining ethane/propane mixture is out of the line.

The cause of the rupture remains unknown pending further investigation.

About the Companies

Enterprise Products Partners L.P. describes itself as one of the largest publicly traded partnerships and a leading North American provider of midstream energy services to producers and consumers of natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGLs), crude oil, refined products and petrochemicals.

It operates 49,000 miles of natural gas, NGL, crude oil, refined products and petrochemical pipelines, according to its website, and reported an asset base of $49 billion as of Dec. 31, 2015.

Mid-America Pipeline System is said to transport mixed NGLs produced from natural gas processing plants in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico to the Seminole pipeline in West Texas over 8,074 miles of pipeline.

Earlier this year, an Enterprise natural gas processing facility was the site of two explosions and a fire. No one was injured in that incident but an investigation was launched by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Explosions; Fire; Health & Safety; Health and safety; North America; Oil and Gas; Pipelines

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