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W.Va. officials want slow gas line restart

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm •  Published: December 28, 2012

The pipe that exploded had corroded and thinned to 70 percent of its original thickness, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the explosion.

"How do we know that there's other areas that's not that thin?" Sigman said. "We don't know."

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said that since a portion of pipeline was so deteriorated before it exploded, it should be confirmed that the rest of the pipeline isn't as dangerous.

"The community has an absolute right to be safe. The traveling public driving over interstates have a right to be safe and the first responders deserve better than this," Carper said. "It's incumbent on the gas company to prove to the regulatory authorities that the line is intact from beginning to end."

The PSC proposed that NiSource partially test the pipeline and its valves to ensure its safety. But Sigman said he prefer that they are fully tested.

"Partially tested only verifies it partially," he said. "We are not a regulator, we cannot tell (the gas company) what they can and cannot do but we want to make sure they understand our concerns and explain how to make it safe. We want to make sure we're all on the same page and feel like it's the safe thing to do."

Both also worry that other dangerous pipes remain in the ground.

The piece of pipe that exploded dates to 1967, but pieces of the system originally were installed in the early 1950s.

Columbia already has restarted two pipes within 200 feet of the pipeline that exploded. Officials believe neither was damaged in the blast.