Williams and Its Safety Record
Williams is an energy infrastructure company based in Tulsa, OK, that primarily owns and operates natural gas pipelines and processing plants. In 1995 it bought Transco Energy Corporation, which operated a pipeline that brings natural gas from wells in the Gulf of Mexico and distributes it in East Coast states as far north as the New York City region. In 2009 Williams began to focus on fracked natural gas sources in the Marcellus Shale (Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio) and began to build pipelines that would bring fracked gas from there into the Transco system. The Northeast Supply Enhancement pipeline would be part of the Transco system.
Williams has a poor record of safety in the management of its pipelines, compressor stations, and processing plants. See its safety record for yourself:
Recent Williams Accidents and Safety Violations
2008. A Williams Transco natural gas pipeline exploded in Appomattox, Virginia in September. Five people were hospitalized and two nearby homes were destroyed. In 2009 Transco was fined $925,000 for failure to monitor corrosion, the source of the Appomattox pipeline explosion. The Washington Post, Oct. 30, 2010. https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/staticfiles/PHMSA/DownloadableFiles/Press%20Release%208.10.09.pdf
2011. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration levied a civil penalty of $23,800 for failure to properly inspect and test compressor stations in Texas and Louisiana. https://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/reports/enforce/documents/420111001/420111001_Final%20Order_06242011_text.pdf
2011. The massive explosion of a Williams Transco pipeline Sweet Water, Alabama was attributed to pipeline corrosion. The blast was heard 30 miles away and ignited a fire that burned eight acres of pine forest. https://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/reports/enforce/documents/220111011H/220111011H_CAO_12062011_text.pdf
2012. An explosion led to a fire at a Williams-owned compressor station in Springville, Pennsylvania. Times Tribune, Scranton, March 30, 2012
2012. Williams/Transco paid a $74,300 fine levied by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for safety and monitoring failures at its Carlstadt, New Jersey, LNG facility. https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/staticfiles/PHMSA/DownloadableFiles/Files/Press%20Release%20Files/120123002_Final%20Order_10262012.pdf
2012. The PHMSA levied civil penalties $50,000 for failure to follow adequately monitor and maintain its pipelines on Staten Island. https://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/reports/enforce/documents/120111015/120111015_Final%20Order_03052012_text.pdf
2012. Personnel at a Williams-owned compressor station in Windsor, New York, were venting methane gas during a lightning storm. This resulted in a “big fireball” and the release of the remaining gas into the atmosphere. Natural Gas Watch, July 30, 2012.
2013. Williams natural gas plant leaked benzene into groundwater near Parachute, Colorado. Benzene is a carcinogen; in some places, benzene level was 36,000 times greater than safe drinking level. Denver Post, March 28, 2013. Six months later the leak was still active. Denver Post, July13, 2013
2013. A recently-installed 24-inch Williams natural gas pipe ruptured in Cameron, West Virginia. http://marcellusdrilling.com/2013/03/williams-methane-pipeline-ruptures-in-marshall-county-wv/
2013. A fire broke out in a Williams compressor station in Brooklyn Township, Pennsylvania. While Williams officials denied there was a fire, DEP officials said they found visual evidence that an explosion may have occurred. One ton of methane was released during the event. Times Tribune (Scranton) May 16, 2013
2013. An explosion at a Williams compressor station in Branchburg, New Jersey, injured thirteen people, two seriously. Home News Tribune (East Brunswick, NJ), June 1, 2013. The PHMSA investigations found Williams to have followed inadequate procedures in place for ensuring safety. The PHMSA levied civil penalties of $167,000. https://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/reports/enforce/documents/120141002/120141002_Final%20Order_10082014_text.pdf
2013. An explosion and fire at the Williams Olefins, Inc., plant in Geismar, Louisiana, killed two people and injured many more. A US Chemical Safety Board investigation concluded that safety management at the plant was deficient for years prior to the explosion. http://www.csb.gov/williams-olefins-plant-explosion-and-fire-/
2014. A fire at Williams compressor station in Windsor, NY. NYS Department of Public Service Incident Investigation Report: http://documents.dps.ny.gov/public/Common/ViewDoc.aspx?DocRefId=%7BEA77D8AC-37E5-41B8-B57C-4C7CDE8F941F%7D
2014. Pipeline explosion and fire at a Williams LNG facility in Plymouth, WA. Five people were injured. Thinkprogress.com, March 31, 2014.
2014. A natural gas pipeline failed, leading to an explosion and fire at a Williams-owned facility in Moundsville, West Virginia. InterMountain.com, April 24, 2014.
2014. Explosion and fire at a Williams natural gas processing facility and major national pipeline hub in Opal, Wyoming. Entire town evacuated. Casper Star-Tribune, Oct. 16, 2014.
2015. Explosion and fire at a natural gas plant owned by Williams in Gibson, Louisiana. Three workers were killed and two others were seriously injured. Wall Street Journal, 8 October, 2015.
2015. The rupture of a Williams pipeline in Lycoming, Pennsylvania released approximately 96,379,000 cubic feet of methane. https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/staticfiles/PHMSA/PipelineFailureReports/150663_Transcontinental_Unityville_PA_June_9_2015.pdf
2015. The PHMSA levied a civil penalty of $56,800 on Williams for failing to adequately inspect transmission pipeline valves in New Jersey and New York City. https://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/reports/enforce/documents/120141009/120141009_Final%20Order_12292015_text.pdf
2016. A series of explosions and fires at Williams/Transco facility at Bayou Black, Louisiana left four people dead and two injured. After an investigation, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration found it probable that Williams had violated federal pipeline safety regulations. PHMSA levied $1.6m in civil penalties. https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/staticfiles/PHMSA/DownloadableFiles/Files/Pipeline/420161008_NOPV_PCP_PCO_07292016.pdf; https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/pipeline/phmsa-proposes-1-6-m-in-civil-penalties-for-safety-violations-following-fatal-2015-louisiana-compressor-station-explosion
2016. PHMSA notified Williams of safety violations at its Transco pipeline facilities in Alabama and Georgia. https://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/reports/enforce/documents/220161002W/220161002W_Warning%20Letter_09022016.pdf
2016. PHMSA notified Williams that its procedures for replacing natural gas pipeline in Maryland violated pipeline safety standards. https://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/reports/enforce/documents/120161008W/120161008W_Warning%20Letter_11022016.pdf
2016. A Williams facility in Clarke County, Mississippi, inadvertently released 3.2 million cubic feet of methane. It was cited for poor procedures by the PHMSA. https://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/reports/enforce/documents/220171002/220171002_NOPV%20PCP%20PCO_05122017.pdf
2017. PHMSA notified Williams that it was in probable violation of Pipeline Safety Regulations in its Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina Transco facilities. https://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/reports/enforce/documents/220171002/220171002_NOPV%20PCP%20PCO_05122017.pdf