Activists, Pipeline Firm Clash Over Coating Condition
An activist group in Nashville is doing battle with pipeline giant Kinder Morgan over what it says is poor maintenance of pipelines in Tennessee, including deteriorating protective coatings.
Divest Nashville was recently launched on the heels of a 2016 report authored by activist Mike Younger and the late John Henry Armstrong III, who documented what they saw as condition issues with the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGPL) in the state over a span of three months in 2015.
The Field Study
Working with the assistance of a number of engineers and a retired corrosion scientist, Younger and Armstrong compiled the report between July and October that year, taking pictures of sites where they say the protective coatings of natural gas pipelines were delaminating, and where corrosion was so prevalent as to render cathodic protection systems ineffective.
The report pictures one area along a creek where the authors say a microbial colony near the pipeline indicates the possibility of microbiologically influenced corrosion.
The report also points to areas where stretches of aboveground pipeline appear not to have the proper support, and where corrosion has been covered with repair coatings; the authors say it is not verifiable whether the pipeline surface was properly prepared prior to recoating.
About the Pipeline
The TGPL is an 11,900-mile system stretching from the Gulf Coast to New England, built in the 1940s. Kinder Morgan took ownership of the line in 2012, when it acquired previous owner El Paso Corporation.
Kinder Morgan is in the midst of an $800 million expansion to the pipeline system in Tennessee and nearby Kentucky and West Virginia.
The company told The Tennessean that the pipeline system in the area where Younger and Armstrong conducted their survey was inspected in 2009, 2014 and 2016, with no safety concerns found. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration inspected a portion of the TGPL in 2016 and did not issue any citations.
Divest Nashville, the new group, calls for personal and business divestment from fossil-fuel businesses, citing the state of the TGPL as an example of the environmental risks of fossil-fuel production and transport.