Pipeline Accident Summary Report - Pipeline Rupture, Liquid Butane Release, and Fire

Lively, Texas
August 24, 1996

NTSB Number: PAR-98-02-SUM
NTIS Number: PB98-916503
Adopted November 6, 1998

Executive Summary

On Saturday, August 24, 1996, about 3:26 p.m., an 8-inch-diameter steel LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) pipeline transporting liquid butane, operated by Koch Pipeline Company, LP (Koch), ruptured near Lively, Texas, sending a butane vapor cloud into a surrounding residential area. The rupture occurred under a roadway in the Oak Circle Estates subdivision.

The butane vapor ignited as two residents in a pickup truck drove into the vapor cloud. According to the sheriff's report, they were on their way to a neighbor's house to report the release to 911. The two people died at the accident site from thermal injuries. No other injuries were reported at that time; however, about 25 families were evacuated from Oak Circle Estates.

Koch estimated its direct pipeline losses, including the loss of product from the line, to be about $217,000. Other property losses included damage to the roadway under which the rupture occurred and damage to a pickup truck, a mobile home, several outbuildings, and adjacent woodlands.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of Koch to adequately protect its pipeline from corrosion.

The major safety issues identified by this investigation are as follows:

  • Adequacy of Koch's corrosion inspection and mitigation actions, and
  • Effectiveness of Koch's public education program, particularly with respect to educating residents near the pipeline about recognizing hazards and responding appropriately during a pipeline leak.

As a result of its investigation of this accident, the Safety Board issued recommendations to the Research and Special Programs Administration, Koch, and NACE International.


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

To the Research and Special Programs Administration:

Require that Koch Pipeline Company, LP, evaluate the integrity of the remainder of its HVL (highly volatile liquid) pipeline, including the condition of the coating, and rehabilitate the pipeline as necessary. (P-98-34)

Revise 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 195 to require pipeline operators to determine the condition of pipeline coating whenever pipe is exposed and, if degradation is found, to evaluate the coating condition of the pipeline. (P-98-35)

Revise 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 195 to include performance measures for the adequate cathodic protection of liquid pipelines. (P-98-36)

Revise 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 195 to include requirements for the content and distribution of liquid pipeline operators' public education programs. (P-98-37)

Revise 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 195 to require that pipeline operators periodically evaluate the effectiveness of their public education programs using scientific techniques. (P-98-38)

To Koch Pipeline Company, LP:

Establish a procedure to promptly evaluate all data related to pipeline corrosion, such as annual cathodic protection surveys, field reports, internal inspection results, and coating condition data, to determine whether the pipeline's corrosion protection is adequate, and take necessary corrective action. (P-98-39)

To NACE International:

Develop a standard for microbial sampling and testing of external surfaces on an underground pipeline. (P-98-40)