A rural part of Kentucky was rocked awake today when an underground gas line exploded early this morning. At least two homes have been completely destroyed from the blast and the fire that ensued after, and so far two people have been reported injured. The area of the pipeline has been isolated to prevent any further damage or fire from spreading through the rest of the line. The blast left a 60 foot crater just outside the town of Knifley, roughly 90 miles south of Louisville, authorities said. The explosion happened just after 1am and the fire from the blast could be seen in the city of Columbia 12 miles from the site.
The underground gas line is part of the Columbia Gulf Transmission (CGT) pipeline which is responsible for carrying natural gas from the Gulf Coast. The CGT is mainly located in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky. However, it connects to almost every major pipeline in the region, providing natural gas to the Northeast and the Midwest. The pipeline is roughly 15,700 miles and is responsible for the flow of 1.3 trillion cubic feet of gas every year.
Part of the pipeline is now shut down so the damaged part could be isolated in order to prevent the fire from spreading through the pipe. It is still unclear how or why the gas line in Kentucky exploded, rocking the small rural community. Monitoring teams noticed a drop in the pressure on Line 200 in Adair County and had immediately dispatched a crew to respond to the alert. The responding crew did determine that there was a rupture in the pipeline just outside of the town of Knifley.
This incident could not come at a worse time, since the line is responsible for providing gas to homes that are currently experiencing one of the coldest winters in years. The line supplies gas to heat millions of homes and businesses. The strain on the pipe could be a contributing factor to the blast, albeit, there is no official word from the company on what caused the explosion. Pipelines all over the country are filled to the brim and still inventories are being drained faster than ever before.
It also proves to be bad for gas investors, too. On the New York Mercantile Exchange natural gas futures were trading up and looking for a 5 percent increase in March. However, in light of the explosion, this could bring the stock down significantly as the company recuperates losses and begins repairs.
Columbia Gulf Transmission did say that, at this time, there should be no impact on commercial operations and they also stated that customers not in the area of the blast should not be affected by the isolated incident. The company is responsible for more than 3,400 miles of pipeline that supply natural gas to homes and commercial businesses.
However, this most likely means little to those who lost their homes or to the two people who were injured in the wake of the gas line explosion that rocked the small rural area of Kentucky this morning. Today’s explosion is a reminder that right below our feet is a volatile system that must be respected.
By Adam Stier