NTSB releases report on 2019 Kentucky pipeline explosion

The National Transportation Safety Board said on Wednesday that the 2019 pipeline explosion that killed one person and destroyed five homes in Kentucky occurred when a pipeline ruptured and released natural gas.

Fourteen other homes were damaged when the fire burned about 30 acres (12 hectares) in Lincoln County, according to the NTSB.

The agency said the 30-inch pipeline, owned and operated by Enbridge Inc., had a pre-existing manufacturing defect known as a hard-to-reach spot. This, combined with the pipeline’s worn coating and ineffective cathodic protection, led to hydrogen-induced cracking on the outer surface, according to the NTSB.

According to the agency, cathodic protection prevents corrosion where the coating is damaged.

The NTSB said Enbridge’s integrity management program did not accurately assess the condition of the pipeline or assess the risk that contributed to the accident.

In an emailed statement, Enbridge spokesman Michael Barnes said the company “deeply regrets the impact on the community and family that has lost a loved one.” He called the findings a “stern reminder” of the importance of safely maintaining and operating the company’s pipelines.

The NTSB has issued safety advisories to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Authority and Enbridge Inc. Security recommendations address topics such as incomplete risk assessment, incomplete threat assessment, and missed learning opportunities.

Barnes said in a statement that the company takes the NTSB recommendations “very seriously” and has “worked diligently to understand the factors contributing to this incident and (took) huge steps to change our procedures, processes and conducted extensive audits to make our pipes safer than ever.”

Enbridge pipelines carry about a quarter of the crude oil produced in North America and one-fifth of the natural gas used in the US. US history.

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