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West Virginia Gas Pipeline Accidents Raise Safety Concerns

Two recent gas pipeline accidents in West Virginia have brought greater attention to pipeline safety issues in that state.  On December 11, 2012, a natural gas transmission line near Sissonville ruptured, causing a fire that burned a portion of an interstate highway and damaged several homes.  Preliminary reports from the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency leading the accident investigation, indicate that the ruptured portion of the line had external corrosion, that no alarms sounded in the pipeline control room at the time of the explosion, and that the pipeline operator was not able to stop the flow of gas to the line for more than an hour.  On December 18, 2012, a pipeline construction worker was killed in a separate accident in Bethany.  According to preliminary reports in the Charleston Gazette, the worker was struck in his vehicle with a section of pipe that was being moved with heavy machinery just prior to its installation.