Monday, May 9, 2016

Salem Twp, Westmoreland Twp PA pipeline explosion investigation / Executive Summary

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Salem Twp, Westmoreland Twp PA pipeline explosion investigation /
Executive Summary:

For the last 10 days I've been obsessed by researching the TETCO (Spectra) pipeline
explosion in Westmoreland County PA. 

I have uncovered some amazing things which you won't read anywhere else, including:
  1. TETCO lost all records to 750 facilities (pipe segments, M+R stations, etc)
    in a flood caused by Hurricane Allison in 2000. They asked FERC to abandon
    these facilities, which FERC granted a special exception for. (Normally they
    require documentation of these).
  2. There is a high likelihood that this pipeline was not running pure methane, but was
    transporting Wet Gas, which burns hotter.
  3. This pipeline was being operated to within 98.9% of the Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure (MAOP)
    which leaves no margin for error in case of a pressure surge. (see below)
  4. There was some involvement of a storage well, which may have contributed fuel to the fire.
  5. By one metric (Delta in Feet, Observed Impact Radius - Predicted PIR), this was
    (perhaps) the worst pipeline accident in US History.  (At least the worst I have seen).

    (The observed burn radius was a whopping 650'ft beyond the predicted "Potential Impact Radius")

  6. There is a larger story of untangling the extremely complex PHMSA rules regarding
    pipeline Class, High Consequence Areas, and Potential Impact Radius.
    Summary: PHMSA is NOT taking public safety into account. It's really bad
    once you understand it all.
    (see my graphic: "Following the Tainted Trail")

  7. Corrosion found may have as a contributing factor flaws in Cathodic Protection due
    to 4 pipeline segments in the same ROW.

    This is very tricky to  get right and is indicated in severe corrosion of the Keystone-1 Pipeline in
    St. Charles County MO in Oct 2012, as written about by Julie Dermansky in Desmogblog.

    (You have to dig into some of the attachments to find the mention of "stray DC currents" as a probable
    cause, and the connection to Cathodic Protection).
  8. Any root cause analysis must examine many possible contributing factors.
    There is a very easy scenario which could be a primary factor: Human Error.

    One of the 4 parallel lines was under maintenance. If a worker closed the wrong
    valve by accident (for example if he lacked records of the interconnects), this could
    have caused a pressure surge which could have caused the weakest link to fail.
Here is my results so far. It's still a Work in Progress, but I'm working to compile this
into a single PDF, and I will also probably make a short video about my findings.

Please contribute to my work:
I always have found it challenging to work a day-job
and continue with my public service work.
My present goal is to raise $600, but If I could
raise $1,000 it would really help me continue this work.

Did you ever attend a church where the minister passes
the collection plate BEFORE the service?

Where's the faith in that!?
I like to raise funds for projects I've already completed.
Here's my goal:
  • $200 for my video of the COP-21 debrief.
  • $200 for my on-going investigation to the TETCO/Spectra failure in Salem, Westmoreland Twp. PA.
  • $200 for my on-going work on the "What Stinks in Endicott" project,
    tracing the dumping of Landfill Leachate from Seneca Meadows.

    My new video, "Who put the Stink in my Drink" got 2,000 views
    in a single week!! My most viral ever:
    (I have been researching this for 3 years, so $200 is VERY cheap!)

I have several projects in the queue:
  • Richard Wolff speaking in Ithaca
  • Cris McConkey Memorial
  • Some others which I can't talk about ... yet!

Option 1: Use Paypal:

Please visit my blog:
and look for the Paypal Donate button which looks like this:

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Please help support my public-interest research, video work. Thanks!

Make sure you see this at the top:

Option 2: Snail Mail:

Make checks payable to: William Huston
Send to:
William Huston
PO Box 22, 
Endicott NY 13761

Easiest is probably Paypal, but they do take fees.
Any amount helps!
May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)


Trucker Mark said...

I did some investigating of this incident myself and used it as part of evidence that our 500-foot setbacks from homes and schools was woefully inadequate.

You might be interested in this recent news release from Spectra (on July 20th):

Spectra Energy, Delmont Line 27 Incident (Salem Township, Pennsylvania), July 20th, 2016:

[Quote] Spectra Energy has received an amended corrective action order (CAO) from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials
Safety Administration (PHMSA) regarding the April 29 incident at Salem Township, Pa.

According to the amended CAO, dated July 19, 2016, “The cause of the failure is unknown at this time, and the investigation is ongoing. The failed pipe section has been transported to an independent metallurgist for examination and failure analysis.

The preliminary investigation has identified evidence of external corrosion at circumferential welds at the Failure Site. The pattern of corrosion indicates disbondment of the coating material applied to the girth weld joints.” [End quote].

There is a 24-hour media line on this source if you need more information.

Also contained in this news item are a number of previous updates going back to the date of the incident.

There is still no final report on the disaster from PA-DEP or US-DOT that I can find:

I will say that evidence of coating disbondment involving a single pipeline at a single location that allowed circumferential welds to rust is a far-larger problem than just that single location, in-fact it involves any welded pipeline joint where that coating was used to try to prevent exposure of the welds to water seepage.

Rich said...

Perhaps you would like to see Spectra's presentation on this?

This is from September 14 2016. There must be more.