Safety of proposed re-purposed natural gas pipeline questioned in Frankfort

07/17/2015 02:47 PM

FRANKFORT – Kentuckians told lawmakers today in Frankfort that they have concerns over a proposed re-purposing of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline.

The pipeline, which is currently carrying natural gas has been proposed as vehicle for another form of combustible material — natural gas liquids or NGLs.

The 964 mile pipeline would carry raw NGLs from Ohio, though Kentucky and on to the Gulf Coast for processing and export, and several Kentuckians expressed concens in an interim committee on Friday.

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline path enters the state from Ohio in northeast Kentucky and follows a 256 mile path along a route close to Ashland, Morehead, Richmond, Danville, Campbellsville and Glasgow before entering Tennessee on its way to Louisiana. Eighteen Kentucky counties would be affected.

The project, which is still in the early proposed and planning phase, would be a joint venture between Kinder Morgan Energy Partners and MarkWest, two large energy/pipeline companies.

Tom FitzGerald, of the Kentucky Resources Council, expressed concern that the pipes which will be re-purposed to carry NGLs, are, in some cases seventy years old.

“It wasn’t manufactured, or designed or welded to current standards, FitzGerald said.
“The standards of the day were less demanding than they are now.”

Bob Pekny, a Woodford County resident who lives near the pipeline, was concerned with the possibility of dangers in case of a mishap.

“Every linear foot of this pipeline has the explosive capabilities of just under one ton of dynamite,” Pekny said. “This pipeline, because of the mass of liquid that it has, is wickedly explosive.”

Another concern of FitzGerald is the fact that a re-purposing project of this type, a 70-year old pipe of 24 inches in diameter, being converted form natural gas to natural gas liquids, hasn’t been done before.

“Sometimes it pays not to be the guinea pig and this is something that concerns a lot of the residences in a lot of the communities, that this has not been done before at this scale,” FitzGerald said.

FitzGerald says that his organization would like to see more advance reviews at the state or federal level of whether the proper evaluation has been made as to whether the pipe has the integrity to handle the hazardous liquids under pressure.

“It’s one thing to have standards, technical standards like the federal Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Agency has, but if nobody is doing any advance review of whether you’re complying with them, the first that we’ll find out is, unfortunately, if there’s an incident, and for those who are affected, it’s a little bit late,” FitzGerald said.

When fully operational, the pipeline could carry 400,000 barrels of natural gas liquid per day.


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