UPDATE 1-Regulators investigate "unsafe" NY natural gas line

Fri Aug 5, 2011 3:09pm EDT

Related Topics

 * Millennium natgas pipe may be unsafe, regulators say
 * Potentially faulty welds could affect line safety
 * Company and regulators assessing the line
 (Adds company reaction)
 NEW YORK, Aug 5 (Reuters) - A key natural gas pipeline
which crosses southern New York state is in danger of rupturing
and could pose a safety threat, according to a recent report
from regulators.
 An investigation by the New York State Department of Public
Service into a leak on the Millennium Pipeline in January found
that uninspected faulty welds were responsible for the
 Now the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety
Administration is conducting its own investigation along a
large stretch of the pipe between Corning and Ramapo, concerned
that similar problems are likely to occur at other points on
the line.
 "It appears that the continued operation of the affected
pipeline without corrective measures would pose a pipeline
integrity risk to public safety, property, or the environment,"
the PHMSA said in a letter to the pipeline operator, Columbia
Gas Transmission, on July 6.
 The company had thirty days to respond to the PHMSA.
 PHMSA, which is part of the Department of Transportation,
requested that Millennium operate the pipeline at a reduced
pressure last month, and the reduction remains in place until
further notice, according to the Millennium website.
 Colombia Gas Transmission is making a weld assessment on
the line, which is expected to be completed in two weeks, a
company spokeswoman said on Friday.
 "We would not operate a pipeline if we did not believe that
it could be done so safely," she said. A PHMSA spokesman said
that PHMSA and the company are undergoing "informal
consultation" about the pipeline.
 The Millennium Pipeline is a 182-mile system extending from
Independence in Steuben County, New York to Buena Vista in
Rockland County, New York. It can deliver up to 525 million
cubic feet per day of supply.
 Millennium is jointly owned by NiSource Inc (NI.N) business
unit NiSource Gas Transmission & Storage, and affiliates of
National Grid (NG.L) and DTE Energy (DTE.N).
 (Reporting by Edward McAllister and Eileen Moustakis; Editing
by Alden Bentley and Sofina Mirza-Reid)