Higdon wrong on NGL risks

Published 8:30 am Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dear Editor,

As one member of a large group of Boyle County citizens who are concerned about the Kinder Morgan NGL pipeline proposal, I am writing in response to Mr. Charles Higdon’s letter of October 9, 2017.  We take issue with Kinder Morgan’s intention to run NGLs through an existing pipeline that was constructed over 70 years ago using antiquated and, by today’s standards, unacceptable welding techniques. This pipeline, TGP 100-1, runs through the south side of Danville alongside homes and businesses, through elementary school grounds, and across Herrington Lake, which provides the water supply for four counties.

While Mr. Higdon claims “Kinder Morgan is one of the most reputable pipeline operators in the nation,” a review of the literature reveals otherwise. K-M has had various problems with maintenance and also maximizing cash-out of their operations. K-M plans to spin off ownership of the pipeline to a shell company – Utica Marcellus LLC (Limited Liability Company.) In the event of a major catastrophe the shell company will declare bankruptcy and walk away leaving the community to clean up the damage.

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Mr. Higdon also claims “pipelines are among the safest ways to transport these products.” But a cursory reading of literature published by the PHMSA (Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) reveals that while Hazardous Materials pipelines make up 11 percent of the mileage of pipeline traffic, they account for well over 50 percent of the accidents.  

Natural gas liquids are extremely volatile, highly explosive substances. Depending upon the mix of materials in the pipeline, they are 100 to 150 times more explosive than natural gas. Kinder Morgan proposes to transport up to 400,000 barrels of NGLs daily through this 70-year old pipeline. Shutoff valves are installed only every 10 miles. At peak flow capacity each 10-mile segment would contain more than 100,000 gallons of NGL’s. The energy contained in each 10-mile section of pipeline is enormous and an explosion would have a blast radius or “Zone of Incineration” extending at least ¼ mile on each side of the pipeline.

There is nothing in this proposal for the citizens of Danville or indeed for Kentucky. K-M simply wants to “re-purpose” the existing pipeline to carry NGLs, a byproduct of fracking operations in Ohio and Pennsylvania. If K-M wishes to do this in a safe manner they should construct a new pipeline meeting modern standards.  

Sarah Vahlkamp