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With More Proposed Pipelines, Here's a Look at West Virginia's Recent Accidents

December 2012 Sissonville Pipeline Explosion
Associated Press
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On December 11, 2012, a 20-inch high-pressure natural gas pipeline running through Sissonville, West Virginia ruptured with so much force that a 20-foot-long segment of pipe was thrown more than 40 feet from where it had been buried.

Two major interstate projects have been proposed for West Virginia: The Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines. The goal is to create infrastructure that can carry natural gas from hydraulic fracturing operations in the Marcellus and Utica shale areas to markets in the East and South East.  

The Mountain Valley Pipeline, or MVP, would begin in Wetzel County and tie into the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, Va., about 330 miles away. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, or ACP, would run about 550 miles from Harrison County through Virginia and end at Lumberton, N.C.

Both the ACP and MVP would be 42 inches in diameter, the largest transmission lines yet to be built in West Virginia. The lines would carry 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day up to 1,440 psi. Both projects require 125-foot temporary construction easements and 75-foot permanent easements. The lines would be buried about 3 feet underground.

Current routes show the lines would travel through parts of the Monongahela and George Washington and Jefferson National forests.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is currently reviewing both projects. If approved, construction on both projects is slated to begin in late 2016 or early 2017. The pipelines are expected to be in service by late 2018.    

Opponents of the projects have cited health and safety concerns, among other issues. 

Should there be a catastrophic failure of the line, the blast zone at full pressure could be up to 1,150 feet. The safe evacuation zone would be more than a mile away.

Several smaller inter-and intrastate lines are either in the works or have begun construction.

A Summary of Significant Pipeline Incidents in West Virginia (2003-2014):

According to data from the federal Pipeline Safety & Hazardous Materials Administration, 19 significant incidents have occurred in West Virginia between 2003 and 2014. The agency classifies incidents as "significant" when any of the following conditions are met: 1) Fatality or injury requiring in-patient hospitalization. 2) $50,000 or more in total costs, measured in 1984 dollars. 3) Highly volatile liquid releases of 5 barrels or more or other liquid releases of 50 barrels or more. 4) Liquid releases resulting in an unintentional fire or explosion.

Between 2003 and 2014, significant incidents in West Virginia have resulted in:

  • 5 fatalities
  • 9 injuries
  • $13,728,650 in property damages
  • 11,412 barrels of spilled hazardous liquids



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