Pipeline Accident Report - Pipeline Rupture and Release of Fuel Oil into the Reedy River

Fork Shoals, South Carolina
June 26, 1996

NTSB Number: PAR-98-01
NTIS Number: PB98-916502
Adopted November 4, 1998

Executive Summary

About 11:54 p.m. eastern daylight time on June 26, 1996, a 36-inch-diameter Colonial Pipeline Company pipeline ruptured where a corroded section of the pipeline crossed the Reedy River at Fork Shoals, South Carolina. The ruptured pipeline released about 957,600 gallons of fuel oil into the Reedy River and surrounding areas. The estimated cost to Colonial for cleanup and settlement with the State of South Carolina was $20.5 million. No one was injured in the accident.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the rupture of the corrosion-weakened pipeline at the Reedy River crossing was the failure of Colonial Pipeline Company (1) to have adequate management controls in place to protect the corroded pipeline at the Reedy River crossing; and (2) to ensure that pipeline controllers were adequately trained to both recognize and respond properly to operational emergencies, abnormal conditions, and pipeline leaks.

The major safety issues addressed in the report are as follows:

  • Effectiveness of Colonial's operations management in ensuring that the pipeline is operated within safe pressure limits;
  • Adequacy of the training given to controllers and shift supervisors as it relates to pre-paring them to recognize and effectively respond to abnormal conditions, emergency situations, and leaks in the pipeline; and
  • Effects of Colonial's controller work schedules on safe pipeline operation.

As a result of its investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board makes safety recommendations to the Research and Special Programs Administration and to Colonial Pipeline Company.


As a result of its investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board makes safety recommendations as follows:

To the Research and Special Programs Administration:

Assess the potential safety risks associated with rotating pipeline controller shifts and establish industry guidelines for the development and implementation of pipeline controller work schedules that reduce the likelihood of accidents attributable to controller fatigue. (P-98-30)

To Colonial Pipeline Company:

Develop and implement management procedures requiring that proper engineering or hydraulic evaluation and analysis be performed before changes are made to line operating parameters that have been set by company management. (P-98-31)

Assess the potential safety risks associated with your controller and relief controller rest/work schedules and modify, as necessary, those schedules to ensure that controller performance is not compromised by fatigue. (P-98-32)

Review your drug and alcohol testing program and ensure that all operating employees and managers are familiar with the program and program requirements, to include the distinction between tests for alcohol and tests for other drugs. (P-98-33)