Nov. explosion leaves lasting impact on lives

August 9, 2012

Marietta, Ohio - Walking her dog on the hillsides around her home Glouster resident Cathy Sayers couldn't help but notice there were a few more ups and downs to her trek.

Turns out, those minor deviations in the land brought about the destruction of her home.

Sayers' home at 9500 Taylor Road was one of three homes destroyed by an explosion at a gas pipeline in Morgan County near the Athens County line on Nov. 16.

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"It was nothing major, no big soil movement, nothing like that," Sayers said.

Officials with Tennessee Gas Pipeline, the company that owns the line, announced earlier this week that landslips and a crack in a weld in the line resulted in the explosion.

"We knew the land had been slipping, but we didn't know there was a bad weld," Sayers said.

Also destroyed was the residence of Steve and Brandi Stover, who lived in a rental property adjacent to Sayers' home, and a home belonging to Daniel Dillaha.

Sayers and the Stovers have since reached an agreements with the company for their homes to be rebuilt, she said. Neither Dillaha nor the Stovers could be reached for comment.

As part of the agreement to rebuild the houses, financial terms could not be disclosed, but Sayers said she hopes to move into her new home in about six months.

"They're supposed to start at the end of this month on the house," Sayers said.

Since the explosion, Sayers has been staying in her son's house at 18 Earl St., Glouster, as he works out of state.

The new home will be constructed on eight acres in Glouster that Sayers, and her husband, John, own.

"We can't rebuild out there," Sayers said.

Sayers residence was only about 50 feet from the line that exploded.

The effects of the explosion were felt in Lowell, more than 25 miles away, according to witness accounts.

Brandi Stover was home at the time of the explosion, as was Sayers. Both escaped unharmed.

Engineers investigating the explosion found through a metallurgical analysis that there was a pre-existing crack in a weld in the pipe.

That crack, combined with the landslips, led to the explosion.

Richard Wheatley, a spokesman for Kinder Morgan, which purchased El Paso Corp., the parent company of Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. in May, issued a release saying the company has taken steps to prevent such events again.

"Tennessee Gas developed an integrity verification and remediation plan and is working with PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) to finalize the plan, while concurrently conducting further assessments in locations that were identified as having high geotechnical interest by our third-party consultants," Wheatley said in the release.

The pipeline that exploded received an inline inspection in June 2011 and an aerial patrol on Nov. 11, 2011 with neither indicating the pipeline was not operating as it should, company officials said after the explosion.

Sayers said she heard of the cause of the explosion through media reports, and had not been contacted by the company.

An earthquake occurred in Virginia in August 2011 that Sayers said she felt at her home.

She wondered if that could have been the cause of the crack in the weld. Officials with Tennessee Gas could not answer when The Associated Press asked if the earthquake affected the pipeline.

"They should've been up here checking it then I guess, but they didn't," Sayers said.



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