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The worst pipeline disasters of 2020

Four crewmembers on Waymon L. Boyd dredger were killed in an August incident in Corpus Christi, which made our list of the worst pipeline disasters of 2020. A mariner injured in the explosion died from his injuries in December, bringing the incident’s death toll to five.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), a United States Department of Transportation agency, has collected data on more than 3,200 accidents deemed serious or significant since 1987.

On May 4, a gas transmission pipeline that is part of the Texas Eastern Natural Gas system exploded and burned, in Fleming County, Kentucky. There were no injuries.

On July 28, a gas line explosion and fire occurred in Martin County, Texas, which injured four workers. A ditching truck hit an existing high-pressure gas line, causing an explosion and fire.

During the time of the accident, a work crew that was digging for a new pipeline hit an existing high-pressure gas line causing an explosion.

The explosion sent a large plume of black smoke and flames into the sky. As a result of the accident, the fire quickly engulfed one truck and injured four workers.

On July 29, a contractor ruptured a natural gas pipeline owned by Lone Star NGL, in Mont Belvieu, Texas, causing an explosion and fire. There were no injuries.

The explosion sparked a large fire around 5 p.m. in the Lone Star NGL facility, where firefighters were kept busy working to suppress the flames well overnight.

On August 14, a Colonial Pipeline mainline, a 40 inch pipeline, was discovered to be leaking, in the Oehler Nature Preserve, near Huntersville, North Carolina. Approximately 1.2 million gallons of gasoline were spilled. The leak was near a previously repaired area.

It is the largest single gasoline spill in the U.S. since at least 2000, according to North Carolina Policy Watch, which used data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

On August 18, an El Paso Natural Gas transmission pipeline exploded and burned, near Midland, Texas.

The series of natural gas pipeline explosions sent five people to hospital with critical burn injuries, and interrupted energy pipeline operations in the area

On August 21, a dredging vessel hit a submerged Enterprise Products propane pipeline, in the harbor of Corpus Christi, Texas, causing an explosion and fire. Five of the crew were killed, and, six others were injured.

At about 8:05 a.m. local time, the 152-foot-long vessel struck a submerged 16-inch liquid propane pipeline during dredging operations next to a marine terminal in Corpus Christi, Texas. A geyser of gas and water erupted, the gas plume ignited, and fire consumed the vessel along with part of the surrounding shoreline.

The U.S. Coast Guard declared the accident a major marine casualty. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the lead federal agency for the safety investigation, which is on-going.

Looking ahead, there are almost certain to be pipeline disasters in the future.

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline, one of the world’s largest oil pipelines, could be in danger of an oil spill in a delicate and remote landscape because a permafrost slope where an 810-foot section of the pipeline is secured has started to shift as it thaws, causing several of the braces holding up the pipeline to twist and bend.

Marathon Petroleum Corporation has not yet determined the amount of gasoline that leaked from one of its pipelines in July at Iroquois County, Illinois. Company spokesperson Jamal Kheiry said the leak was caused by third party excavation activities in the area.

Among the government entities participating in the cleanup are the Iroquois County Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois and federal environmental protection agencies.

Two people were killed and three injured in a June 29, 2021, natural gas pipeline explosion at an Atmos Energy facility in Collin County near Farmersville, about 35 miles northeast of Dallas.

A fire on the ocean surface west of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula early took more than five hours to extinguish, state oil company Pemex said, blaming a gas leak from an underwater pipeline for sparking the blaze captured in videos that went viral.

Bright orange flames jumping out of water resembling molten lava was dubbed an “eye of fire” on social media due to the blaze’s circular shape, as it raged a short distance from a Pemex oil platform.

The company responsible, Pemex, has a long record of major industrial accidents at its facilities.

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