08 September 2015

TransCanada Appears to be the Washington Generals of Pipeline Construction

Clearly, there was an Earth Shattering Kaboom
Yes, another one of their pipelines has demonstrated that it functions better as a pyrotechnic display than they are as transmission device for fossil fuels:
The cause of a natural-gas pipeline rupture near Emerson which forced two Manitoba families to evacuate their home remains under investigation.

A spokeswoman with TransCanada, which operates the pipeline just south of the Canada-U.S. border in Kittson County, Minn., said Monday the company continues to conduct "a detailed investigation to determine the cause of the incident."

The rupture occurred Saturday night around 8:30 p.m., sending flames shooting up into the air.

The nearby local volunteer fire department in Emerson was called out to the fire, said Emerson fire chief Jeff French.

"You could see it from miles away," French said, describing flames six to 10 metres high and three to five metres wide near the site of the explosion.

Two homes on the Canadian side of the border were evacuated and residents were allowed back inside by 11 p.m. Saturday.
Yep, another pipeline blew up.

Of particular interest is the sidebar for the article, which details a pattern of problematic safety failures:
1. Otterburne, January 25, 2014

A natural gas pipeline operated by TransCanada ruptured, sending a massive fireball into the sky during the winter of 2014 in Otterburne, a small community about 60 kilometres outside of Winnipeg. The explosion would force Manitoba Hydro to shut down natural gas flows to thousands of customers in the area, leaving some residents without heat for day. A pre-existing crack present for over 50 years was the culprit in a gas line explosion, a Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigation found.

2. Brookdale, April 14, 2002

A TransCanada Pipelines gas line ruptured, exploded and caught fire two kilometres west of the village of Brookdale, northeast of Brandon. The explosion created two craters — one at each end of the ruptured section of pipe — and burned for nearly four hours.

About 100 people were evacuated within a four-kilometre radius of the blast, but there were no injuries.

The investigation found that, similar to the Rapid City blast, stress corrosion cracking was found to have caused the explosion. It was unusual in this case as the affected pipe was coated with asphalt and buried in non-corrosive soil. It was discovered that the combination of the pipe’s coating separating from the surface, a fluctuating water table, the presence of anaerobic bacteria and other factors all combined to create a corrosive environment.

3. St. Norbert, April 15, 1996

At a spot where a TransCanada gas pipeline crosses the La Salle River, gas escaped from a crack in the pipe, caught fire and an explosion destroyed a nearby home. The explosion also left a 13.5-metre-wide crater on the bottom of the river and damaged hydro lines and trees on both sides of the river. No one was injured.

The investigation found “environmental assisted cracking” to be the cause. A shift in the river slope led the pipe to move and stress out a crack in the pipe that may have been present since the pipeline was laid in 1962.

4. Rapid City, July 29, 1995

A TransCanada Pipelines gas line ruptured and caught fire near Rapid City, north of Brandon. An adjacent gas pipe also ruptured and caught fire which damaged a third line.

The incident left a 51-metres wide crater that was five metres deep. One TransCanada employee suffered minor cuts and bruises.

The investigation found the first rupture was caused by stress corrosion cracking, the slow growth of small cracks in an environment capable of corroding a pipe. The second rupture was partly the result of a delay in shutting down the flow of gas to the first pipe.
Note that this is just in Manitoba, and in 2 of the 4 cases, cracks in the line were unobserved for decades, and in a 3rd case, the rupture was mismanaged.

As Charlie Pierce observes, , "Pretty plainly, TransCanada puts its pipelines in the ground and then you're on your own, rube. At this point, I wouldn't buy a bucket from these clowns, let alone a continent-spanning death funnel."

I will note that pipelines for bitumen, the vaguely oil like crap that comes from the tar sands, is nowhere nearly as well understood as that of oil or gas, so it would be problematic even for a pipeline operator that was able to find its ass with both hands.


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