Natural Gas Pipeline Explodes in KY


Last Thursday (Aug. 1), Line 15 of the Texas Eastern pipeline—owned by Canadian multinational energy transportation company Enbridge—exploded around 1:20 a.m. in Lincoln County, Kentucky, killing one person and injuring several others.

The explosion is reported to have destroyed five homes and caused extensive damage to four, in addition to melting parts of a nearby railroad track. A portion of U.S. 127 was also shut down as a result.

The Incident

According to reports, the 30-inch gas line breached roughly 150 feet from a mobile home park early Thursday morning. The explosion, which was so large it showed up on WKYT-TV weather radar, sent flames 300 feet in the air and could be seen dozens of miles away. It is believed that because of the pipeline’s pressure, the effect of the blast caused such widespread damage.

“We just saw flames shooting up over the roof. The air was so hot it would take your breath,” said local resident Judy Gooch. “There was a lot of people running from the fire.”

Over the course of the incident, about 75 people were evacuated from the Indian Camp Trailer Park. New Hope Baptist Church served as a shelter for victims of the fire and others who abandoned their homes. Devin Hotzel, spokesperson for Enbridge, also stated that the company would provide assistance, including temporary housing, to victims if needed.

Flames were extinguished by local firefighters hours later around 8 a.m. while Enbridge declared that the affected line had been isolated and company officials would be responding to the scene. However, this did not go without cost.

Lisa Denise Derringer, 58, died from extreme heat, while at least five others experienced non-lethal injuries and were taken to Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center. NBC News reports that debris from the explosion could be found within a five-acre area and some even hitting vehicles within a quarter mile.

“There is just nothing left,” said Lincoln County Emergency Management director Don Gilliam regarding the trailer park. “There doesn’t look like there is any in between back there; they are either destroyed or still standing.”

Al Monaco, President and CEO of Enbridge, added in a statement: "We are deeply saddened that this incident has resulted in a fatality. I want to express our condolences to the family and loved ones of the person who was lost today and to all who have been affected by this incident."

What’s Happening Now

Because this was the second incident in less than a year on the 9,000-mile-long Texas Eastern pipeline that stretches from the Mexican border in Texas to New York City, the National Transportation Safety Board has announced it will be sending three investigators to the scene.

Jason Griffitts, who owns a farm adjoining the mobile home park, told the Lexington Herald Leader, that based on instructions he received personally from a company gas representative on the signs of gas leak, he was unsure if there had been any advanced warning signs prior to the explosion.

Previously, in January, a portion of the pipeline exploded in rural Noble County, Ohio, reportedly injuring one person, destroying three homes and damaging three other homes and the surrounding terrain. Prior to the Ohio explosion, Texas Eastern suffered yet another explosion and fire in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, in April 2016. That incident resulted in the injury of one person and $2.3 million worth in property damage, in addition to the damaged property owned by Enbridge itself.

Since the incident, residents have been permitted to return to their homes.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Asia Pacific; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Explosions; Fire; Heat-related injury; Latin America; North America; Oil and Gas; Pipeline; Pipelines; Program/Project Management; Z-Continents

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