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Cause of recent pipeline accident possibly discovered

Pipelines, although necessary, can be extremely dangerous when not properly maintained. People in Texas who work with pipelines are often unaware when employers have neglected to maintain equipment or who have ignored safety checks on a regular basis. This type of negligence can lead to tragic accidents. A recent pipeline accident is under investigation.

In April 2016, one worker was injured when a nearby gas line exploded. The explosion caused a section of the ruptured pipe to shoot 25 feet up into the air before it landed approximately 100 feet away. Several homes were also damaged in the accident, although no residents appeared to be hurt. Initial investigations performed by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration stated that it was still unsure of the cause of the explosion. However, continuing investigations point to at least two corroded welds as likely culprits.

According to the investigation, the section that exploded had been put in back in 1981, and the pattern in which the corrosion occurred indicates that there was likely a flaw with the actual material used to coat the joints. The company that owns the pipeline has been ordered to take corrective action on other sections that show the same types of flawed weld coatings. At least three additional pipelines have all been earmarked for maintenance.

An engineer has cautioned that the initial corrosive findings should not be determined to be the initial cause of the pipeline accident just yet, as the true cause of such tragedies can take months and years of investigations to uncover. In the meantime, injured workers in Texas often worry that they will have to wait until the conclusion of the investigation before receiving any type of recourse. While a common concern, workers' compensation benefits can be achieved regardless of whether the official cause of an accident has actually been determined.

Source: powersource.post-gazette.com, "Corrosion found on gas pipeline that exploded in Westmoreland County", Anya Litvak, May 4, 2016

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