CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Local officials are asking regulators to go slow when it comes to restarting the natural gas pipeline that exploded in Sissonville earlier this month.
Last week the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said the company could plan to restart the 26.2-mile segment of pipe after taking a number of steps, including repairs and inspections.
The state Public Service Commission also gave the gas company a long list of demands that must be met before the pipe is restarted.
But some officials say safety must trump speed when getting the pipeline back up and running.
"We escaped the other day, we don't want to push our luck," county fire coordinator C.W. Sigman told the Charleston Daily Mail (http://bit.ly/VjMiDf ).
Four homes were destroyed, several others were damaged and a section of Interstate 77 was cooked in the Dec. 11 explosion. No one was seriously injured.
"Timing is not the issue. The issue is making sure it's safe," Sigman told The Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/VG4juy). "It already had one rupture and burnt several buildings down. We want to make sure it doesn't happen again so we don't want to be in any hurry."
Sigman said it likely would take a while for NiSource subsidiary Columbia Gas Transmission to meet the requirements. A company spokeswoman did not return a call seeking comment.
Among other things, the company has a month to run a "smart pig" through the pipe segment, which starts near Cross Lanes and runs northeastward. These metal pigs, which can resemble a metal jellyfish, travel through a pipeline to check for irregularities, including cracks and corrosion.
It is unclear how long or how expensive the process will be. A Columbia spokeswoman did not return a call seeking comment.