Monday, January 6, 2014

1/6/13: Williams Compressor Station, Windsor NY is (again) on Fire.

Another Fire at Williams Company's
Windsor NY Compressor Station

Facility has been Plagued with Problems

Source: Bill Huston
We've just learned that the Williams Company owned-operated compressor station on Patterson Rd. off Dunbar Road in West Windsor NY is on fire.

This marks the seventh time in 2 years of a major accident at a Williams facility.
  1. Dec 3, 2011: Marengo County Alabama compressor fire/explosion
  2. Mar 29, 2012: Lathrop/Springville PA (Susquehanna Co. PA) compressor fire/explosion
  3. July 23, 2012: Windsor Compressor, lightening strike caused blowdown exhaust to catch fire  
  4. May 14, 2013: Williams Central Station, Brooklyn PA (Susquehanna County), explosion /fire. 
  5. May 30, 2013: Branchburg NJ, compressor station fire/explosion, 13 injured. 
  6. Jun 24, 2013: Geismer, Louisiana, Olefins Plant, explosion/fire. 
  7. Jan 6, 2014: Windsor NY Compressor Station fire
WBNG-TV in Binghamton will have a report on the 11pm newscast.

Williams Company has several current projects in the region, including looping the Laser Pipeline
(which connects to the Dunbar Rd. facility) which will approximately double the gas takeaway capacity of gas from NE PA on to the Millennium Pipeline.
This facility has been plagued with problems. In addition to the previous fire,
the facility has had constant problems with noise and other issues.

Williams previously bought-out a nearby homeowner who had complaints about the facility.
WPX (a drilling and production spin-off of Williams Company) officials have mentioned in recent
investor calls that their present production in Susquehanna County is limited due to
problems bringing the Dunbar Road, Windsor facility on-line.

For more info on the safety record of the Williams Company, see this video, or the Sane Energy Project page.

Source: WBNG
Source: C.R.O.W.
Panorama, taken 1-7-13 afternoon after fire

Source: Unknown

The Business/Safety Record of the Williams Company
Operators of the Windsor Compressor Station

2003-4 FINED $20 million in federal investigation for allegedly reporting false data to manipulate the California natural gas market. Williams pays California $417 million to settle case. Source: Los Angeles Times, 12/18/04

2007 Williams pays $290 million to settle a class action lawsuit filed by its own shareholders in 2002 for allegedly hiding “the firm’s plummeting fiscal picture.” Source: Securities Class Action Clearinghouse, Stanford Law School.

2008 (Sept) Natural gas explosion in Appomattox, Virginia [Transco] Two homes destroyed, damage to about 100 other houses and multiple injuries. • The pipe split at just below the maximum allowable operating pressure. There was a deafening roar and shaking that many people believed was an airplane crash or earthquake. • A 32-foot section of a 30-inch diameter pipe tore loose and came out of the ground, blowing gas. • A nearby power line came loose, and struck the ground, causing the spark that ignited the fire. Property damage exceeds $3 million. Source: WSLS, NBC-TV affiliate in Roanoke.

2009 FINED $925,000 for failure to monitor corrosion, which caused the Virginia pipeline explosion in 2008. Source: see above.

2011 (June) Williams subsidiary FINED $23,000 by PHMSA for failure to conduct  its own annual inspections of compressor stations in Texas and Louisiana. Source: US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

2011 (Dec) A Williams/Transco pipeline ruptured with an explosion in southwestern Alabama; the blast could be heard 30 miles away. Flames shot nearly 100 feet in the air for more than an hour. Source: Demopolis Times

2012 (March) An explosion at the Lathrop compressor station in Susquehanna County, PA, blows a hole in roof, shaking homes as far as a half-mile away and drawing emergency responders from nearby counties. Source: Times Tribune, Scranton, March 30

2012 (March) Transco/Williams FINED $50,000 by PHMSA for failure to follow own internal policies to control corrosion in natural gas pipeline in NYC-- Staten Island. Source: Natural Gas Watch.

2012 (July) A compressor station operated by Williams Companies in Windsor, New York, was venting gas in a “routine procedure”—during a lightning storm!—when the vent was ignited by lightning, causing an explosion and huge fireball.

2013 (March) Williams natural gas plant leaks benzene, which causes cancer, in Parachute, Colorado, contaminating groundwater. In some places, benzene level is 36,000 times greater than the level considered safe for drinking. Source: Denver Post, March 28, 2013

2013 (March) Williams 24-inch gathering pipeline ruptures in Marshal County, West Virginia. Source: Reuters, March 22

2013 (May) Fire in Williams compressor station near Montrose, PA. Bulging walls indicate an explosion “may have occurred.” Source: Times Tribune, Scranton, May 16.

2013 (May) Fire in Williams compressor at Branchburg, NJ, sends two workers to hospital.

2013 (June) Explosion and fire kills 2 people, injures 114 people at Williams Geismar natural gas chemical plant in Louisiana. 31,000 pounds of toxic chemicals released.  Investigation reveals 3 years of noncompliance with federal Clean Air Act. Sources: New Orleans Times-Picayune, CNN

2013 (July) Benzene levels in surface water double again near the Williams gas plant in Parachute, Colorado. Levels in groundwater remain much higher than the limit. Williams blames a mechanical failure. “It released more than 10,000 gallons of hydrocarbon liquids from a valve on a pipeline…” according to a newspaper report. Source: Denver Post, July13.

2014 (Jan) Fire at Windsor, NY, compressor station, second in less than two years.

This is a partial list of spills, explosions, fires and business dealings of the Williams Co.
For a more extensive list, go to Google and use this search term:

Williams Safety and Compliance Record

Williams Co. is asking the NYS Public Service Commission for permission to double capacity at the Windsor compression station. Meanwhile, the facility has been violating the Town of Windsor noise ordinance since it began operating. After two fires at the site, should the facility be allowed to expand?


  1. continuing breakdown of the gas industry infrastructure much more can we take?

  2. This highlights why having these facilities around communities, or anywhere people live is not just a 'really bad idea' but irresponsible and a really stupid idea as well. Fines, notices of violation, and regulations - even when enforced, are not enough. If they were, these "accidents" would not be so commonplace.

    The oil and gas industry, and their corrupt political cheerleaders will say that these incidents are an "acceptable risk".

    Therefore I have to ask: 1) Acceptable to who? 2) What is the percentage that is considered "acceptable"? 3) How many people being injured, killed, and being make chronically ill is "acceptable", and 4) why doesn't the industry openly discuss these risks with the people who live in the communities they want to operate in?

    In a sane and just society, these would be rhetorical questions and the obvious answers would be: 1) No one 2) zero 3) zero 4) because they know people would rightfully resist - as they should.

    The blood is not only on the hands of companies like Williams and Cabot, but on the industry as a whole, the politicians who provide legislative and regulatory cover, and the people who tolerate this behavior.

    In the words of Thomas Jefferson: "When tyranny and injustice become law, resistance becomes duty."