Pipelines have been with us for years, and most people are a bit blase about them. I have heard, "Oh, that pipeline was put in 40 years ago, and it has never caused any problem." However, pipelines deteriorate from the inside out and are not easily monitored. (My town of Greece, NY, is replacing old pipes right now.) Old pipelines have been causing problems lately. Because they are underground, we don't think about them, but they are everywhere under our feet, our homes, our roads, our schools- everywhere, like a spider's web.
There is a new worry after a very scary incident in Texas. On October 15th, in Grand Prairie, a "pig" was accidently discharged out of the end of a pipe being installed. This device was being used to test pressure in the pipe. The 150-pound pig went right through the wall of a home 500 away and landed in the owner's bedroom. No one was hurt. But that was just luck. It could have killed somebody. According to the homeowner, the incident was not even reported to the Texas Railroad Commission until Wednesday (6 days after it happened) and only after a TV news reporter began asking questions. The rule is that such incidents must be reported within two hours. The TRC is charged with regulating and overseeing the natural gas industry in Texas.
Want to know more about pigging? Click here. One explanation of the term "pig" is that it is short for Pipeline Inspection Gauge. There are quite a few uses for these devices and other theories as to how they got their name. But what is clear is they can be very dangerous. With thousands of new pipelines going in for natural gas transport, the dangers are compounded by the sheer numbers and their close proximity to homes, schools, and other areas where people are.
Here is Texas Sharon's 2007 comment on the Railroad Commission. She's not a fan.
Wonder what a PIG looks like? Here is a picture of one:
|A PIG like this flew through the air and landed in a near-by house in Texas!|