A Closer Look At Pipeline Company And Safety Reports - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

A Closer Look At Pipeline Company And Safety Reports

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     The pipeline involved in the explosion near Erie, Illinois late Monday night is a part of Houston-based Enterprise Products' Mid-America pipeline system called the Morris Lateral. It's a ten inch pipe that runs from Iowa City to Morris, Illinois where it serves a petrochemical customer. 
     What runs through the line is natural gas liquids. Company spokesperson Rick Rainey says that's what comes out with the natural gas when it's produced and it's basically a mixture of butane, propane, natural gasoline, and ethane. In this particular case the ethane and propane are a feedstock in the starting point for raw materials for different types of plastics. 
     The company is working with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to investigate what happened with the line. Rainey says from an environmental standpoint there's little along the lines of clean-up because this type of product would have burned away.
     Enterprise Products has approximately 50,000miles of pipeline nation wide that transport a variety of things.
     This incident raises a lot of questions about safety regulations and what kind of issues the company may have dealt with in the past. In a list of safety-related condition reports the company made to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration since 2003 there are 59 issues reported in Iowa and Illinois. The majority of those were in Illinois.         
     There are things like corrosion, minor leaks, or other conditions that could lead to imminent hazards. The full list shows more than 1,000 safety-related condition reports throughout the country in the last decade.
     There is a whole slew of reasons why companies are required to file a report. They include any leak over five gallons or anytime more than $50,000 in repairs are done to equipment, pipeline, or pump stations.
    "Overall, if you compare us to the industry as a whole we have a very strong track record of safety. We've established ourselves at least in the different areas we operate as a safe and reliable operator," said Rainey.
     Rainey also notes that pipeline operating conditions are monitored 24-7. In this case Enterprise Products was able to shut off the gas remotely within minutes of the explosion.