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Residents return after Hankamer gas line blast

Jan. 29, 2007, 4:18PM Residents return after Hankamer gas line blast
By CINDY HORSWELL Copyright 2007 Houston Chroncile

Two pipeline workers were injured and 30 families evacuated for three hours today after a 25-foot plume of pressurized natural gas spewed from an Energy Transfer Partners' pipeline that ruptured just north of Interstate 10 in Chambers County.
The line, named the Houston Gas Pipeline — which runs through a cow pasture near the intersection of Texas 61 and FM 63 by Hankamer — was accidentally damaged by a bulldozer at about 10:30 a.m., said Chambers County Emergency Management Director Ryan Holzaepfel.
The two workers were there to conduct some annual testing on the pipeline, said Vicki Granado, Energy Transfer's spokeswoman. But the workers, who were using heavy equipment to dig around the pipe, accidentally knocked a cap off of a valve attached to that line, said Holzaepfel.
Both workers, whose names were not released, were then blasted by the dirt and debris that sprayed into the air from the ruptured 12-inch line that was under about 1,000 pounds of pressure.
The two were then rushed by ambulance to Bayside Community Hospital in Anahuac where they were treated for hand and facial injuries. The hospital's administrator, Bob Pascasio, described the injuries as minor, and said once testing was completed the two workers were going to be released from the hospital.
Emergency workers responded to the scene quickly and used shutoff valves to isolate the leak to a 10-mile section of pipe. Fortunately, the flammable fumes that remained in that 10-mile stretch of pipe did not ignite and dissipated safely, authorities said.
After prevailing winds blew the fumes to the north, the Chambers County Sheriff's officer ordered about 30 homes on the north side of the leak evacuated until the threat of any danger passed. Special transportation was provided to some residents who did not have vehicles and a temporary shelter was established at the Hankamer Community Center, said Holzaepfel.
Three roads — Texas 61, FM 1410 and FM 1663 — were also barricaded until the volatile fumes had dissipated.

Posted Date: 
7 February 2007 - 10:02am