A public informational meeting about the May 4 Consumers Energy gas pipeline rupture (see story) was attended by over 30 concerned residents at the Lyndon Township Hall on Tuesday, June 23.
Following the pipeline rupture, area residents voiced concerns over how the situation was handled, what actually happened, as well as the overall safety of the pipeline as a whole.
Pipeline quick facts:
- Consumers Energy pipeline 100-A – runs between Chelsea and Stockbridge
- 20-inch diameter pipeline, 1/4 inch thick steel wall
- Transports natural gas
- Pressure: 600-700 pounds per square inch
- Reports of explosion around 10:30 p.m. on May 4
- Pipeline shut down at approximately 12:30 a.m. on May 5
- Amount of natural gas lost through rupture: 48,000,000 cubic square feet
- Pipeline 100-A last tested: 2013 – tested for internal integrity. Anomalies found, about one and a half miles of pipeline replaced.
- Cause of May 4 pipeline rupture: corrosion induced fracture on outside of pipeline – outside not tested in 2013.
- Result: Electromagnetic Acoustic Transducer (EMAT) testing will be performed. EMAT is an ultrasonic nondestructive testing (NDT) method, like an ultrasound, which can detect problems with the outer pipeline wall.
Among those there to address the audience were representatives from Consumers Energy, Wolverine Pipeline Company, the Michigan Public Service Commission, and Emergency Responders. Unable to attend was Mark Breckenridge, director of Washtenaw County Emergency Operations, who was dealing with the aftermath of severe storms in the area on June 22.
Chelsea Area Fire Authority (CAFA) Chief Jim Payeur, representing emergency responders, opened the meeting with a summary of events from the night of the incident.
“Our initial concerns were, obviously, life safety,” Payeur stated, and added, “for the emergency responders, this was an absolute ideal incident, because it was in the middle of the woods, there was low humidity, and there was no wind.”
Payeur went on to explain that the three companies with pipelines in the area were contacted. “All three pipeline companies arrived, and were great to work with.” He said that air quality was constantly monitored, no gas was detected, and no evacuation were necessary.
Charles Crews, executive director for Consumers Energy, stated that “Our primary focus is the safety of this community, and the safety of your families. As a Chelsea resident, this is my community, too.” Crews went on to say that “We won’t do a thing until we’re confident, one hundred percent confident, that we have that line safe and ready to operate.”
Crews then explained the response process of Consumers Energy in a situation like this. “Our first reaction is to go out and protect life and property. Once we have the site secured, once first responders were on site, and recognized there was no immediate danger to residents, then we went through and made a plan of where can we shut valves off.”
Crews stated that as of June 15, 2,700 feet of pipeline had been replaced, and that this was completed in less than 40 days. Crews then said that “Over the next several weeks, we will begin a series of comprehensive, inline inspections and hydrostatic pressure testing to assess the structural integrity of the line. If we find additional issues with the pipeline, we will take steps to correct them.”