ENON, La. -- While the site of the pipeline explosion in Washington Parish looks as black and bare as it did a month ago, a required incident report from pipeline owner Florida Gas Transmission gives a new look at what may have happened.
The report, submitted to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA, indicates the apparent cause as corrosion failure. While that information is preliminary, some in the community say it's a concern, but not a surprise.
Pastor Leon Hickman, who was evacuated during the emergency, said, "They couldn't have gone and repaired all the other places had they not already known, so yea they knew."
"Anytime we're dealing with corrosion and we're talking about something that's soon to be 50 years old, I've got some questions about that," said Washington Parish OEP Director Tommy Thiebaud.
Also at issue is the Cathodic Protection Survey, which is required to control corrosion of buried pipelines. The company says in the report that the ruptured area hadn't received a survey since 2009, but now says that was an error which is being corrected. Florida Gas says it was actually surveyed four months before the explosion.
Corrosion has been suspected in several incidents in Florida Gas Transmission's history, including one of the more recent ones north of Baton Rouge, last year. PHMSA records show, other than the pipeline rupture in Pride, the company has had four other incidents, out of 17 since 2006, where corrosion was suspected or determined as the cause.
Florida Gas Transmission told Eyewitness News in a statement, “Our investigation into the cause of the incident is ongoing and is in full cooperation with PHMSA. We have submitted a preliminary incident report to PHMSA, which we are required to do within 30 days of the incident. We have replaced approximately 120 feet of pipe at the point of the incident and with the approval of PHMSA have returned the pipeline to service at a reduced operating pressure.”
“Our integrity program is dedicated to ensuring all of our pipelines are in full compliance with all applicable rules and regulations. In many cases, the testing done under this program is above and beyond what is required. The safety of the people and the safety of communities in which we live and work is very important to us. We are doing everything we can to make sure that we take care of this situation quickly and efficiently,” said the company.
While the community says the company has been a good neighbor before and during the explosion, it hopes that relationship gets better now.
The investigating agency says the official failure report can take as long as 20 months to be completed.