Preliminary NTSB Report Reveals Problems Shutting Off Ruptured Pipeline That Killed Two

Preliminary NTSB Report Reveals Problems Shutting Off Ruptured Pipeline That Killed Two

By Terri Jo Neff |

The fiery Aug. 15 explosion of a Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline which killed two members of Coolidge family and severely burned another ejected a 46-foot section of the pipeline and left a massive crater, according to a preliminary report issued Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The rupture of the 30-inch diameter transmission pipeline, known as Line 2000,  occurred around 5:30 a.m., sending the ejected pipeline nearly 130 feet away into a field. The subsequent fireball destroyed the home of Luiz and Rosalita Alvarez and was visible for miles, including Casa Grande.

Emergency responders found Luiz and the couple’s 14-year-old daughter Valeria deceased in the house. Rosalita was found nearby with multiple injuries.

According to the report, it took Kinder Morgan personnel one hour to locate and manually shut off the pipeline’s nearest downstream valve. The fire, however, was not extinguished until shortly after 8 a.m. when the nearest upstream valve was finally isolated, the report states.

The investigation to date found that Line 2000 was installed in 1985 to transport crude oil. It was converted for the transmission of natural gas around 2005 when operated by El Paso Natural Gas. Houston-based Kinder Morgan acquired the line in 2012.

The continuing investigation will focus on metallurgical analysis and testing of the ruptured pipeline as well as adjacent sections of pipe which were not damaged. In addition, investigators will look into causal factors and pipeline safety.

Assisting NTSB in this matter are Kinder Morgan, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the Arizona Corporation Commission, the Pinal County Fire Investigation Taskforce, and the Coolidge Police Department.

The NTSB is an independent federal agency responsible for determining the probable cause for pipeline incidents, as well as civil aviation, railroad, highway, and marine accidents. NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson has said a final report about the incident could take 12 to 24 months to complete.