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NV; Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline Near Fault

by Site of Recent 6.0 Quake Saturday, Mar. 14, 2009 at 10:45 AM

The proposed natural gas pipeline from Wyoming through Utah and Nevada to end at the CA/OR border town Malin and would pass very near a site of a recent 6.0 earthquake, in addition to many other ecologically sensitive or seismically active sites..

The proposed natural gas pipeline from Wyoming is heading for the same town, Malin, OR where the other natural gas line from Coos Bay, Oregon was heading also. Is this a replacement for the coastal route that is being heavily opposed by both coastal and mountain Oregon residents, or will it attempt to meet up with the OR pipeline on the way to CA??

Some background on the inland pipeline;

"El Paso Corp based in Colorado proposes a 680 mile, 42" buried natural gas pipeline from Wyoming to Oregon with the majority of the new route being constructed across northern Nevada. The Chapter commented recently that the company should look at routes which follow existing utility corridors rather than damage wild lands and undisturbed sagebrush habitat in Nevada.

In its letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) the Chapter strongly supported alternatives to the proposed route because it would disturb pristine sagebrush steppe areas rather than following already disturbed existing utility corridors. The proposed pipeline route would cross critical wildlife and wild lands on the southern boundary of the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in northwestern Nevada. Nevada customers apparently would receive no gas from the pipeline. Although the pipeline slices across more than 350 miles of northern Nevada, no public hearings were held in Nevada. The proposed pipeline faced considerable opposition at recent hearings in Utah (see http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_10732438)."

Map and further info @;

The town of Wells, headwaters of the Humboldt River, is very close to the site where the pipeline would cross. This is the same site of the 2/21/08 earthquake 5.5 miles northeast of town that measured 6.0 on the Richter scale. This quake toppled many of the historic brick buildings in old town Wells and caused damage to other buildings..

Fortunately there was no natural gas pipeline running through the region, or some watersheds may have experienced pollution from a ruptured pipeline and natural gas leakage into the watershed..

The fault that caused the quake is listed as moderate with the chance of 6-10% of having another 6.0 within 50 years within 30 miles of the 10% boundary..

further info @;

Wells earthquake clearinghouse;


The ecosystem around Wells isn't as dry as most of the surrounding desert, and the headwaters of the Humboldt River here are unique because they begin as a swampy region with flat plains of wetlands, unlike the usual headwaters found atop mountain streams. The nature of the headwaters as swampy are more vulnerable to leakage of underground pipelines in the event of future quakes..

"Just north of town lies a swampy area called Humboldt Wells. The Humboldt River, which flows through most of northern Nevada, has its source in the springs at this spot. The Humboldt River has been an important influence on the exploration and settlement of Nevada, and is the basis for the route that Interstate 80 follows."

found @;

The usual promise of "Jobs" (ever notice how the first letter of 'Jobs' resembles a fishing hook??) is dangled in front of a small rural town still reeling from last year's earthquake. The damaged historic buildings are not yet repaired, and already the pipeline proposal is coming to further complicate the lives of the residents. To risk the possibility of an underground natural gas leak in the event of future quakes balanced against the few temporary jobs offered to residents during the construction phase of the pipeline..

Risks of natural gas pipeline rupture

El Paso Natural Gas previous explosions

The maps featuring locations of El Paso Natural Gas corporation's "Ruby Pipeline" as it is called shows the site of the pipeline as about 20 miles north of Wells, NV, and the Town Creek Flat site of last year's 6.0 earthquake..

Natural gas pipelines transport the material in gas state, not liquid. Any rupture and disruption to the line from earthquakes or other sources can cause explosions and fires of this substance. Looking at past experiences, this is not an uncommon occurrence..

Here's a list of natural gas pipeline ruptures over the last few decades;

United States;

1965: Gas Transmission Pipeline, north of Natchitoches, Louisiana. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company explodes from stress corrosion cracking, killing 17 people. This accident lead to then President Lyndon B. Johnson to call for the formation of a national pipeline safety agency. (March 4, 1965)

1968: Ruptured LPG Pipeline. Near Yutan, Nebraska. Repair crews responded to a pipeline rupture, thought vapors were dispersed, but ignited a vapor cloud by driving into it. 5 Repairmen were killed. (December 5, 1968)

1969: Low Pressure Natural Gas Distribution System, Gary, Indiana. (June 3, 1969)

1969: High Pressure Natural Gas Pipeline. A 14 inch natural gas pipeline running at 789 psi near Houston, Texas ruptures, causing a massive fire. Construction work downstream of the accident lead to a pressure build up that caused the rupture. September 9, 1969.

1970: Colonial Pipeline Company, Petroleum Products Pipeline, Jacksonville, Maryland, (September 3, 1970.

1970: Port Hudson Propane Gas Pipeline rupture. Phillips Pipeline Company propane gas explosion, Franklin County, Missouri. Leak lead to propane cloud explosion with a force of several tons of TNT. (December 9, 1970)

1972: Rupture of Propane Pipeline, near Butler, Alabama. A road grader in use hit a high pressure propane pipeline. A while after the line was ruptured, a car drove into the vapor cloud, igniting it, and killing 4 people. (June 20, 1972)

1973: Natural Gas Liquids Pipeline rupture. Austin, Texas A Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) pipeline ruptured due to an improper weld. 6 people killed. (February 22, 1973)

1975: Natural Gas Liquids Pipeline rupture. An NGL pipeline ruptured due to previous mechanical damage at Devers, Texas. 4 killed in vapor cloud fire. (May 12, 1975)

1975: LPG pipeline rupture. An LPG pipeline ruptured near Romulus, Michigan, due to previous mechanical damage to the pipeline and over pressurization from operator error at a storage facility. 9 people were injured in the vapor cloud fire. (August 2, 1975)

1976 LPG pipeline rupture. An LPG pipeline ruptured near Whitharral , Texas, leading to vapor cloud fire that killed 5 and destroyed 2 homes. Electrical Resistance Weld (ERW) failure is suspected for the failure. (February 25, 1976)

1976 Petroleum products pipeline. A front loader hit an 8 inch petroleum products pipeline in Los Angeles, California during a road widening project along Venice Boulevard. 9 were killed, and serious property damage occurred.(June 16, 1976)

1976 Natural gas pipeline rupture. A road grader hit a 20 inch gas transmission pipeline near Cartwright, Louisiana. 6 killed in the following fire. (August 9, 1976)

1977 LPG pipeline rupture. A LPG pipeline ruptured near Ruff Creek, Pennsylvania from stress corrosion cracking. The resulting propane vapor cloud ignited when a truck driven into the cloud stalled, then created a spark when it was restarted. (July 20, 1977)

1978 LPG pipeline rupture and fire. An LPG pipeline at Donnellson, Iowa ruptured from past mechanical damage and improper lowering for road improvements. The vapor cloud ignited several minutes after the rupture. 3 people were killed. (August 4, 1978)

1979 Natural gas pipeline rupture. An anchor handling boat, PETE TIDE II, damages an unmarked gas pipeline with a grappling hook offshore from New Orleans, Louisiana. A fire followed, and the 2 of the crew were missing & presumed dead. (July 15, 1979)

1986 Petroleum products pipeline rupture at Mounds View, Minnesota. Gasoline at 1,434 psi sprayed a residential area around 4:20 am local time, then ignited. 2 were killed, and many homes damaged or destroyed. Confusion by the pipeline company lead to a delay in shutting down the pipeline. ERW failure caused the rupture. (July 8, 1986)

1989 Petroleum products pipeline failure after the San Bernardino train disaster, California. Damage from derailment cleanup caused petroleum products pipelines to rupture, spraying homes with gasoline. 3 killed in following fire.

1989 New York City Con Edison Steam Pipe explosion, rupture 3 are killed in the 3rd ave- Grammercy Park area.

1990 Propane pipeline rupture and fire, North Blenheim, New York, March 13, 1990. Stress from work done on pipeline causes rupture, vapor cloud moved downhill into a town. 2 killed when the cloud ignited.

1994 Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation Natural Gas Pipeline Explosion and Fire Previous damage cause a natural gas transmission pipeline to rupture at Edison, New Jersey on March 23, 1994.

1996 Butane Pipeline rupture and fire, near Lively, Texas, August 24, 1996. 2 killed after driving into an unseen butane cloud. Leak was caused by external corrosion.

1997 Pipeline Rupture and Fire, Indianapolis, Indiana, July 21, 1997.

1998 Natural Gas Explosion and Fire, South Riding, Virginia, July 7, 1998.

1998 Natural Gas Pipeline Rupture and Subsequent Explosion, St. Cloud, Minnesota, December 11, 1998.

1999 Natural Gas Explosion and Fire at a gas pressure station, Wytheville, Virginia, destroying a home and motorcycle store.[4] (January 3, 1999)

1999 Natural Gas Service Line and Rupture and Subsequent Explosion and Fire, Bridgeport, Alabama, January 22, 1999

1999 A pipeline in a Bellingham, Washington park leaked gasoline, vapor from leak exploded and killed 2 children and an 18 year old man on June 10, 1999.

2000 Hazardous Liquid Pipe Failure and Leak, Explorer Pipeline Company, Greenville, Texas, March 9, 2000.

2000 Natural Gas Pipeline Rupture and Fire Near Carlsbad, New Mexico This Explosion Killed 12 Members Of The Same Family. Cause was due to severe internal corrosion of the pipeline. (August 19, 2000)

2000 Rupture of Piney Point Oil Pipeline and Release of Fuel Oil Near Chalk Point, Maryland, April 7, 2000.

2002 Rupture of Enbridge Pipeline and Release of Crude Oil near Cohasset, Minnesota, July 4, 2002.

2003 Excavation Damage to Natural Gas Distribution Line Resulting in Explosion and Fire, Wilmington, Delaware, July 2, 2003.

2007 2007 New York City steam explosion, on July 18, 2007

2007 Propane pipeline explodes, killing two and injuring five others near Carmichael, AL on November 1, 2007.

2008 Natural gas pipeline explodes and catches fire on February 5, near Hartsville, TN Believed to have been caused by a tornado hitting the facility.

list found @;

The El Paso Natural Gas corporation has a track record of unsafe operating practices and several accidents over the years;

"PIPELINE SAFETY? El Paso Natural Gas has experienced at least 40 pipeline ruptures since 1985. El Paso Power company bought our local ANR natural gas pipelines last year from Coastal. El Paso's ANR pipelines would feed both the Muskego and New Berlin power plant sites.

In August, 2000 El Paso Natural Gas was the culprit in the worst pipeline explosion in the continental United States in nearly 25 years. As a result, 12 people in New Mexico died and El Paso is facing the largest fine ever imposed for pipeline safety violations by The U.S. Department of Transportation ($2.5 million). Three years before the disaster, El Paso was warned of potential pipeline corrosion problems in New Mexico. When corrosion finally ruptured a 30-inch El Paso pipe near Carlsbad, New Mexico, vibrations from the explosion were picked up by seismic monitoring devices 60 miles away and 50-story high flames shot into the air! When firefighters came within a half-mile of the site, they were driven back by the heat, fearful that it would melt the paint off their trucks.

A few months before the explosion the El Paso Energy Pipeline Group president submitted a statement to the Senate Energy and Transportation Committee opposing any legislation that would increase fines to pipeline operators for violating safety laws. After the explosion, a proposal was floated before Congress to improve pipeline safety and inspection, particularly since the federal government has only 55 inspectors to cover 2 million miles of pipeline. A spokesperson for El Paso Energy Company said they did not endorse the pending legislation "but will do what it takes to make sure this kind of incident doesn't happen again."

Just one year after the New Mexico disaster, another section of El Paso's pipeline failed in Arizona. The 24 inch pipe leaked natural gas for an hour, then ignited. Area residents could see the fire from 3 miles away and were evacuated. Fortunately, no one was injured. El Paso repaired the pipeline, pumping gas through it the very next day after the accident.

However, the Office of Pipeline Security stepped in and forced El Paso to shut the pipeline down, citing likely serious harm to life, property and the environment, especially given that the cause of the pipeline rupture was unknown and the pipeline was close to places where people gathered.

(Sources: Oil and Gas News, Western Governor's Association, 8-25-00 and 9-1-00; Cox Washington Bureau, 8-22-00; Houston Business Journal, 6-22-01, Dayton Daily News, 8-22-01; Warning Letter from U.S. DOT Office of Pipeline Security to El Paso Natural Gas Company, August 19, 1999 and August 14, 2001.)"

info @;


"Corrosion of Natural Gas Pipeline

Rupture and Fire Near Carlsbad New Mexico August 19, 2000
Accident Synopsis

At 5:26 a.m., mountain daylight time, on Saturday, August 19, 2000, a 30-inch diameter natural gas transmission pipeline operated by El Paso Natural Gas Company (EPNG) ruptured adjacent to the Pecos River near Carlsbad, New Mexico. The released gas ignited and burned for 55 minutes. Twelve persons who were camping under a concrete-decked steel bridge that supported the pipeline across the river were killed and their three vehicles destroyed. Two nearby steel suspension bridges for gas pipelines crossing the river were extensively damaged. According to EPNGS property and other damages or losses totaled $998,296. (reference)

Accident Narrative
The EPNG pipeline system transported gas west from Texas and New Mexico to Arizona and California. A portion of the pipeline system crossed the Pecos River about 4 1/2 miles north of the Texas-New Mexico State line and 30 miles south of Carlsbad, New Mexico. About I mile west of the river crossing was the Pecos River compressor station, which received gas from four natural gas transmission pipelines 26-inch-diameter line 1100, 30-inch-diameter line 1103, 30-inch-diameter line 1110, and 16-inch-diameter line 3191. Three of these lines (1100, 1103, and 1110) ran parallel to Whitethorn Road (also known as Pipeline Road) from the Pecos River to the Pecos River compressor station. Lines 1103 and 1110 were supported at the river crossinga one-lane concrete-decked steel service bridge that was not open to the public."

more info @;

So what residents of Wells and other communities get out of this sweet deal from El Paso Natural Gas is a handful of temporary jobs in construction of the pipeline and a lifetime of risks and threats of explosions, leaks and other disasters in the event of a future quake..

Other alternative to transporting large amounts of natural gas (most from unstable overseas sources imported to limited and vulnerable ocean port cities in highly explosive liquified form) in pipelines is for each and every community to harness and locally distribute their own natural gas from decomposing biomass held in aboveground containment units and given to local residents. Composting manure, lawn clippings, food waste and other biological matter would encourage community self sufficiency and be safer than pipelines and ocean tankers delivering large amounts all over the place..

Background on methane recovery from manure;

"Methane Process. According to Shihwu Sung, assistant professor in environmental engineering, and director of Anaerobic Systems Engineering at Iowa State University, anaerobic digestion occurs when bacteria produce biogas by decomposing organic matter, such as manure, in an environment without air. The process involves the following three steps:

Hydrolytic bacteria convert complex particulate matter into dissolved compounds with low molecular weight.

Acidongenic/acetogenic bacteria convert the dissolved compounds into organic acids and hydrogen.

Methanogenic bacteria finally consume these acids or hydrogen to generate methane and carbon dioxide.

Anaerobic digesters are sealed with covers that trap the biogas produced in the digester. The biogas is then pulled from the digester by providing a slight vacuum on a pipe with a gas pump or blower. Biogas, which contains 60–80 percent methane and has a heating value of approximately 600–800 Btu/ft3, is then used to produce energy. Methane can power an engine generator to produce electricity and can be used to operate a boiler or space heater, as well as chilling and refrigeration equipment. Gas that is not used for energy production is ignited and flared to reduce methane emissions and odor."

article @;

Of course building a storage chamber for locally produced natural gas would also require safety checks as they are near the same earthquake fault line, though with the smaller scale and local observation the risks of severe explosion would be less than with the pipeline..

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