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Texas Eastern restricts gas flows after blast, cooperates with safety officials

Texas Eastern Transmission LP will continue restricting natural gas flows through a portion of its pipeline system for at least another week following a deadly Aug. 1 explosion along the line in Lincoln County, Kentucky.

Flows through the Danville compressor station in central Kentucky will remain at zero through the close of the day's gas nominations on Aug. 12 and until further notice, Enbridge Inc.'s Texas Eastern said in a statement.

"We are currently coordinating with the [National Transportation Safety Board] to determine additional information that we can provide regarding our return-to-service plan," Texas Eastern said in an Aug. 5 statement. "No return-to-service timeframe is estimated at this time."

About 1.5 million Dth/d to 2 million Dth/d of gas typically move through the Danville Compressor Station.

The blast occurred on Line 15 between the Danville and Tompkinsville compressor stations on the Texas Eastern system, an 8,835-mile pipeline that transports gas from the U.S. Gulf Coast to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. The explosion in Moreland, Ky., killed one person, damaged about nine homes and forced the evacuation of dozens of residents.

The cause of the incident is not yet known. The National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, took control of the site on Aug. 1 and continues to investigate with the help of staff and subject matter experts from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, as well as Enbridge.

NTSB is still in the fact-gathering phase and expects to remain on site for seven days from the start of the investigation, said Terry Williams, a spokesperson for the agency. During that time, it will collect maintenance and inspection records and repair history and conduct interviews with operators, maintenance personnel and managers, local emergency responders and others. The three NTSB investigators on site have expertise in metallurgy, operations and emergency response.

"This is a fact-gathering phase, and while investigators are on scene, they will not be doing an analysis or determining probable cause," Williams said. It could be 12 to 18 months before NTSB publishes a final report on the cause of the blast, he said.

What the agency knows so far is that the impacted portion of the Texas Eastern pipeline was installed in 1957 and transports gas from Mississippi to Ohio, Williams said. A portion of this line in the Moreland area ruptured, ignited and burned in the early hours of Aug. 1, ejecting approximately 30 feet of pipe into the air.