Federal regulators suspect that a major natural gas pipeline in New York may be riddled with faulty welds and have ordered the pipeline’s operator to take immediate protective action to prevent a tragedy, according to documents obtained by NaturalGasWatch.org.

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PMHSA) issued the order on July 6, in connection with a leak that was discovered in the Millenium pipeline, which runs between Steuben County and Rockland County in southern New York, in January.

During a routine surface patrol, Columbia employees noticed bubbles emerging from a creek located in a remote part of Tioga County, near the Schneider Road, and identified a leak that ultimately resulted in the release of more than 1.3 million cubic feet of natural gas into the environment.

Federal regulators suspect that the Millenium natural gas pipeline in New York may be riddled with faulty welds after discovering a leak in the pipeline and reviewing construction records of the line, installed in 2007 and 2008

The New York Department of Public Service  (NY DPS) subsequently inspected the line and determined that the leak resulted from a defective weld that joined two segments of the 30-inch pipeline.

The Millennium Pipeline is a New York-based interstate natural gas pipeline serving the northeast. Millennium is anchored by its customers National Grid, Consolidated Edison of New York, Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corporation and Columbia Gas Transmission L.L.C. It is jointly owned by affiliates of NiSource Inc., National Grid and
DTE Energy.

From the federal corrective order:

The weld was characterized as a “double-joint” weld, which refers to a mechanized weld that was made to join two lengths of pipe in a staging yard, prior to shipping to the final installation site. Records indicate that the double joint section containing the anomaly did not pass visual inspection and was set aside at the double joint rack where the welding activities were being performed. It appears that during the course of the construction project for the line, the subject pipe section was inadvertently picked up and subsequently installed in the pipeline.

The NY DPS subsequently reviewed records filed by the pipeline’s owner, Millenium Pipeline Co., LLC in connection with the pipeline’s construction, discovered three additional welds that were potentially inadequate as well and concluded that the integrity of entire pipeline could not be trusted.

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