Pipeline Accident Report

Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation Pipeline Rupture

Sissonville, West Virginia
December 11, 2012

NTSB Number: PAR-14-01
NTIS Number: PB2014-103977
Adopted: February 19, 2014
Revised: March 11, 2014
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Executive Summary

On December 11, 2012, at 12:41 p.m. eastern standard time, a buried 20-inch-diameter interstate natural gas transmission pipeline, owned and operated by Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation, ruptured in a sparsely populated area, about 106 feet west of Interstate 77 near Route 21 and Derricks Creek Road, in Sissonville, West Virginia. About 20 feet of pipe was separated and ejected from the underground pipeline and landed more than 40 feet from its original location. The escaping high-pressure natural gas ignited immediately. An area of fire damage about 820 feet wide extended nearly 1,100 feet along the pipeline right-of-way. Three houses were destroyed by the fire, and several other houses were damaged. There were no fatalities or serious injuries. About 76 million standard cubic feet of natural gas was released and burned. Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation reported the cost of pipeline repair was $2.9 million, the cost of system upgrades to accommodate in-line inspection was $5.5 million, and the cost of gas loss was $285,000.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the pipeline rupture was (1) external corrosion of the pipe wall due to deteriorated coating and ineffective cathodic protection and (2) the failure to detect the corrosion because the pipeline was not inspected or tested after 1988. Contributing to the poor condition of the corrosion protection systems was the rocky backfill used around the buried pipe. Contributing to the delay in the controller's recognition of the rupture was Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation management's inadequate configuration of the alerts in the supervisory control and data acquisition system. Contributing to the delay in isolating the rupture was the lack of automatic shutoff or remote control valves.