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TransCanada Says Columbia Gas Incident in Ohio Unlikely to Cause Disruptions

An incident on Monday that killed a maintenance worker at a Columbia Gas Transmission (TCO) system meter station in Northeast Ohio isn’t expected to have a “commercial impact,” a TransCanada Corp. spokesman said.  

Wesley J. Johnson, 60, of Wooster, OH, died during maintenance activities at the facility in Bethlehem Township, about 12 miles southwest of Canton in Stark County, according to local authorities. The incident is under investigation, and its cause was unclear.

TransCanada said the facility is isolated, but nearby residents were ordered to evacuate; the order was lifted soon after. Initial reports suggested an explosion had occurred, but there was no explosion nor a fire, according to TransCanada. The loud noises reported by area residents was the sound of pressurized gas flowing through a leak at the meter station, the pipeline operator said.*

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is investigating. Spokesperson Kimberly Norris said all information would be shared with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

TCO stretches 12,000 miles and includes a network of 37 storage fields in four states, to serve natural gas customers from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast. TransCanada acquired the system last year through its $13 billion purchase of Columbia Pipeline Group Inc.

Genscape Inc. said in a note to clients it doesn’t expect any significant regional impacts. Flows upstream of the incident are only about 3 MMcf/d, Genscape said. There also appeared to be no impact to prices on Tuesday, with Columbia Gas up 95 cents at $2.72 and in line with other points in the region, according to NGI price indexes.

“Anytime the industry sees the words pipeline and explosion, they may fear the worst, but this seems to be a relatively minor event -- at least from an operational standpoint,” said NGI’s Patrick Rau, director of Strategy and Research, of the initial reports, which were issued before TransCanada said there was no explosion.

TransCanada spokesman David Dodson said the company won’t be able to make repairs to the meter station until regulators conclude their investigation. He said the company is offering support to the victim's family and to coworkers.

* An earlier version of this story indicated that an explosion occurred. TransCanada has since clarified that there was no explosion. 

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