UPDATE: State investigation continues while inspectors wait for all-clear at site of pipeline blast
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Although state pipeline safety staff still cannot access the Williams Northwest Pipeline (Williams) facility in Plymouth, Wash., the investigation into yesterday’s explosion and fire continues.
A pipeline safety investigator with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) is interviewing Williams employees as part of the UTC’s investigation into the cause of the incident.
An accident coordinator with the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is also participating in the interviews. All Williams employees at the facility have been drug and alcohol tested as required by federal law.
The UTC investigator, a pipeline engineer, arrived at the scene Monday afternoon, but due to the ongoing safety concerns has not yet gained access to the site of the explosion. Williams personnel and local public safety authorities are working to establish safe access. Because liquefied natural gas can burn unseen, they will use Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) to ensure the safety of the area and personnel.
The UTC and its federal counterpart continue to work closely and coordinate with our local authorities and state partners.
Established by the Legislature in 1955, the UTC’s Pipeline Safety Program regulates the safety practices of 28 pipeline companies and conducts safety inspections on more than 24,000 miles of natural gas and hazardous-liquid pipelines in Washington. The UTC also regulates the private, investor-owned natural gas utilities in the state.