Friday, February 13, 2009

Pipeline blast in Texas shuts down highway after asphalt melts

CARTHAGE, Texas - A gas pipeline explosion at the DCP Midstream gas processing plant rocked the area two miles east of Carthage on U.S. Highway 79 shortly after 10 a.m. on Feb. 11, according to Panola County Chief Deputy David Jeter.
The blast and heat from the resulting fireball damaged the highway, along with nearby vehicles, a home and several private structures.
A second, smaller explosion occurred after first responders arrived, he added.
There were no injuries, but Jeter said it was unlikely U.S. 79 would reopen on Feb. 11. Texas Department of Transportation officials were on the scene to survey road damage caused by heat that melted tar on the pavement, he said.
Authorities evacuated about 20 residents living within one mile of the plant, he said.
A number of companies own gas lines that feed into the processing facility, and it wasn't immediately clear who owns the line that exploded, Jeter said.
About 80 employees work at the plant, which DCP Midstream purchased in 1999, according to spokeswoman Karen Taylor. The investigation could take several days, she said. The company blocked all pipelines feeding into the plant.
Controlled fires continued to burn later on Feb. 11, and Jeter expected the burning to continue to ensure vapors were not released into the air.

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