Columbia Gas Transmission, a unit of NiSource Inc., said service was completely restored last week to the handful of residential customers in West Virginia who lost service following the rupture of a 30-inch diameter looping line carrying about 600 MMcf/d of gas through a rural area near Charleston. The pipeline rupture caused a fire last Monday at 11 p.m., but no injuries were reported. Gas transportation service was diverted onto a parallel pipeline. No mainline deliveries were curtailed, a spokesman said.

Initial results of an investigation by the pipeline company, regulatory agency representatives and representatives of the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Pipeline Safety indicate that the rupture was caused by a landslide, said Columbia spokesman Karl Brack. “We’ve worked out a plan with the Department of Transportation to address that problem at that site and elsewhere on the pipeline to make sure we reduce the likelihood of that being an issue anywhere else.”

The rupture occurred at a point where the pipeline crosses Poca River Road at the border of Kanawha and Putnam Counties. Service was cut initially to about 25 Allegheny Energy residential customers because of the incident. By about 1 a.m. Tuesday, Columbia crews had closed valves on either side of the damaged portion of Line SM-80 and the fire burned itself out. Numerous local emergency response teams responded to the situation, helping ensure public safety and controlling access to the site. Public safety officials evacuated a number of residents from the area, but later all were allowed to return home.

The investigation into the cause of the incident could take as long as a month, as portions of the pipe will be sent to an outside laboratory for analysis. Equipment has been brought to the site to help aid in clean up work necessary for the investigation to continue. Once investigators have completed their work at the site, Columbia will begin taking steps necessary to repair the line.

Columbia Gas Transmission operates a 12,500-mile interstate natural gas pipeline network, transporting natural gas from supply areas in Appalachia and the Gulf Coast to markets across the eastern United States.

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