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US Expert View of Rossport Pipeline

Exposive Expert View of Rossport Pipeline

Regulations for production pipelines tend to be very lax as most are not located near people, especially at this very high pressures you are quoting….

Let me be real clear here that if the gas production pipeline were to rupture (a type of failure where the pipe fractures for various reason, and the compressed gas causes the pipe to 'shrapnel' leaving two exposed ends of the pipeline blowing gas), anyone within the 70 meters is going to die. The Government Minister does not have a grasp of pipeline failures at these very exotic high pressures. It is not usual for government officials not to understand these pipeline concepts as these concepts are highly specialized (even many pipeline operators don't understand), so how is the public going to know?

On this 20 inch in a rupture, either

    • the heat flux radiation dosage will incinerate,

    • the blast wave pressure that is generated will destroy, or

    • the high pressure sonic jet roaring out the ends of the pipe blows all in its path,

    such that the result will be 99.9% plus fatalities for many many meters.

    In the event of pipeline rupture the heat will be so great and the roaring so loud you will not be able to tell which direction to run to get away. Many untrained individuals (especially children) panic and run toward the pipe. Since survivability is measured in seconds this can also add to fatalities. I am not trying to scare you, but all need to understand what this pipeline really can do. At these pressures buildings won't provide much protection either.

    As a rough estimate I would place a reasonable survivor zone estimate at something like 500 plus meters from the pipe. Now the odds of a rupture failure can be reduced by design, construction and maintenance/operation but they can not go to zero. In all fairness to the pipeline company if there are only one or two homes in the area they may generally believe the odds of a pipeline failure near people is low. If they however have foolishly routed this in close proximity to many homes or high density buildings such as schools, or a village they are very foolish….

    Technically, an engineer would calculate a safety buffer zone (for people) from the pipeline by assuming a pipeline rupture case with gas blowing out both ends of the pipe (from upstream and downstream). A mass release would be calculated as the gas would hit sonic flow (we call this choked flow for compressed gas) at the pipe ends. The pressure in the pipe really doesn't drop, so the operator may not see a pressure drop in the pipeline and in all probability would not close off the gas for quite some time. The blast - heat releases are then calculated and plotted for different times to ignition (thousands of pounds of fuel air mix) and then the survivor zones determined from well published heat flux tables based on a best guess for ignition times. Remember: in a rupture no flame is required to have ignition.

    Posted Date: 
    9 June 2005 - 10:19am