Saturday, April 5, 2014

Williams Companies Safety and Compliance Record

Williams Partners: A Proven Leader
(in Industrial Accidents)

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


1984 Nov 18, A Williams Companies 6 inch pipeline ruptured in New Brighton, Minnesota, causing a spill of 40,000 to 50,000 gallons of jet fuel in an industrial area. 

1986 July 8, a Williams Companies petroleum products pipeline ruptured in Mounds View, Minnesota.
Gasoline at 1,434 psi sprayed a residential area, then ignited. 2 dead.

1996, Dec 11 a natural gas line operated by Williams ruptured
just north of Tonganoxie Kansas.

2003 May 1, a 26-inch Williams Companies natural gas transmission pipeline failed near Lake Tapps, Washington.
A neighboring elementary school, a supermarket, and 30 to 40 homes in approximately a 4-mile (6.4 km) area were evacuated. There was no fire or injuries. The failure was later determined to be from Stress corrosion cracking.  4 previous failures on this pipeline in the preceding 8 years

2003 Dec 13, Another section of the same Williams Companies gas transmission pipeline that failed on May 1 failed in Lewis County, Washington.
Gas flowed for 3 hours before being shut off. Gas pressure had already been reduced 20% on this pipeline after the May 1 explosion. External corrosion & Stress Corrosion Cracking were seen in this failed area.

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.

A Williams Partners Safety and Compliance Inspector
in Susquehanna County PA shows us his "credentials".
Photo: Vera Scroggins
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

Twisted, burning wreckage at the Williams Lathrop
Compressor Station, Susquehanna County PA.
Photo: Vera Scroggins

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
Williams Central Station, Brooklyn Twp, Susquehanna County PA.
The day after a fire and explosion, May 2013
Photo: Vera Scroggins

2013 (May) Fire in Williams Central 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, 13 injured.

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.

2013 (Dec) Williams Partners fined $99,000 by OSHA for Geismer Olefins disaster.

2014 (Jan) Fire at Windsor, NY, compressor station, second in less than two years.
White is frozen methane from super-cooled LNG
Oops. A little fire.

2014 (March) Fire and explosion at a Williams LNG facility in Plymouth, WA. Source: Reuters

2014 (April) Explosion and fire in a pipeline supplying a Williams-owned facility in Moundsville, WV.  Source: WTOV / WOWK

2014 (April) OPAL, Wyo. explosion and fire at a natural gas processing facility and major national pipeline hub. Entire town evacuated. (Source: AP)

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?

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