No fines assessed in Schoharie County pipeline rupture
Reason for break deemed equipment failure
GILBOA Federal regulators closed their investigation this month into the Aug. 27 pipeline rupture that caused the evacuation of about two dozen residents in southern Schoharie County.
The federal Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a letter Nov. 7 to Enterprise Products Partners LP, owner of the 4,200 mile-long pipe that brings liquefied propane from Texas to Selkirk in Albany County. No fine is being levied against the company as a result of the incident, according to the PHMSA website.
The 2010 leak marked the third incident locally caused by the 50 year-old pipeline. It leaked in Delaware County in 2004, destroying a residence, and killed two people in North Blenheim in 1990 when leaking gas ignited and destroyed the surrounding neighborhood.
According to the PHMSA website, Enterprise Products Partners reported a total of $1,811,756 in property damage due to the most-recent leak, which involved 3,283 barrels of liquefied propane. The PHMSA website attributes the leak to equipment failure. Documents posted following the incident suggest the pipe was ruptured by workers when they buried it after an inspection.
A corrective action order issued by regulators reported the break happened in a spot on the eight-inch pipe that exhibited “stress corrosion cracking.” Contributing to the failure was “overburden pressure from the soil placed atop the pipeline at the completion of the pipe inspection.”
The pipeline crew was on the scene to check the pipe because inspection machines three years earlier detected an “anomaly” in the pipe. Regulators ordered the pipeline company to review its maintenance procedures and go through numerous tests before re-energizing the line that runs about 22 miles through Schoharie County.
In a letter dated Nov. 7, PHMSA Eastern Region Director Byron Coy informed the company all requirements of an amended corrective action order were completed.
“Accordingly, this case is now closed and no further action is contemplated with respect to the matters involved in this case,” Coy said in the letter.
The pipeline was unearthed in more than one place where it runs beneath waterways during tropical storms Irene and Lee in 2011. The company re-buried the pipe between 40 and 50 feet below both the West Kill and Schoharie creeks in North Blenheim following the flooding.
Work is planned early next year to address a failing slope off Brown Mountain Road in North Blenheim that threatens the pipeline as part of a $21 million stream reconstruction program planned since the tropical storms.
Email and phone messages left for Enterprise Products Partners and the PHMSA were not returned Friday.
Documents on the August 2010 pipeline rupture can be found online at http://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/reports/enforce/CaseDetail_cpf_120105008H.html?nocache=2714.