Pipe Workers Break Marshall Waterline

July 5, 2012
By CASEY JUNKINS - Staff Writer , Shale Play

MOUNDSVILLE - At a time when Marshall County Public Service District No. 4 is low on water because a power outage shut off its pumps, the last thing George Lagos needed was an unnecessary waterline break.

However, a communication breakdown between Lagos, general manager and chief operator for the district, and natural gas pipeliners working for Dominion Resources left a waterline exposed to the sun Monday in the area of Roberts Ridge.

The line eventually ruptured around 3:30 p.m., Lagos said, causing the district to lose even more water when the supply was already low because weekend storms hampered the district's ability to pump water.

Article Photos

George Lagos, general manager and chief operator for Marshall County Public Service District No. 4, from left, and district Assistant Operator Bob Richmond speak with Marshall County Sheriff’s Deputy Ian McNally at a waterline break in the Roberts Ridge area of the county Monday.

Photo by Casey Junkins

"The problem is that some of these guys don't do what they say they are going to do. They want to blame everybody else," said Lagos, as he and assistants Bob Richmond and Mark Lamp tended to the exposed and broken waterline. Marshall County Sheriff's Deputy Ian McNally joined the water workers to document the problem.

In the midst of the PSD's regular board meeting Monday, Lagos told board members he needed to leave to tend to the water break because he said they could not afford to lose more water.

Lagos said the pipeliners were originally scheduled to cross the waterline Monday. Because of the district's low water levels - which are part of the reason the state of West Virginia remains under a state of emergency following the storms - Lagos said he told the project supervisor the pipeliners would not be allowed to do this Monday because the district could not take the chance of losing more water. Lagos said he spoke to the supervisor about this around 8:30 a.m. Monday.

"He and I agreed that we would watch their crossing here on Thursday," Lagos said while on site of the break. "But around 3:30 (p.m.), I got a phone call that this waterline came apart after they went ahead and did it when I told them not to. And here it is, totally exposed to the sunlight."

Dominion spokesman Charles Penn said there was a "discrepancy in the time" of the conversation between the pipeline supervisor and Lagos on Monday.

"We apologize for any miscommunication," he said. "We will continue to work to refine the communication process between the PSD and our contractors."

Though Lagos said the pipeliners working for Dominion are not the only ones causing problems in the district, he emphasized that a previously discovered exposed line at Bane Lane in the Beelers Station area remains hanging from a tree branch in the sunlight - just as it was two weeks ago. This mishap also took place at the hands of those working for Dominion, Lagos said.

He noted having active waterlines totally exposed to the summer sun opens the possibility of bacterial growth in the water passing through the line.