Ruptured Nebraska natural gas pipeline repaired

BUSHNELL, Neb. — A southwest Nebraska natural gas pipeline has been put back in limited operation since bursting earlier this month.

The rupture was reported around 3:30 a.m. on May 4 about seven miles north of the village of Bushnell in Kimball County. Officials said there were no reports of injuries, and that claims about an explosion are false.

“The only sound I am aware of was the hissing sound from high-pressured gas that was escaping,” George Rider, an attorney for pipeline owner Tallgrass Energy Partners of Lakewood, Colo., told the Journal Star.

“From what I was told, there were no flames. It was basically overpressure in the pipe, like a balloon popping,” said Sgt. Brandon Loy of the Kimball County Sheriff’s Office.

The rupture in the 20-inch pipeline was reported to the local fire department by a resident. By that time, Rider said, the pipeline pressure drop had been noticed in the company’s control center in Lakewood. Field crews were soon dispatched, and the site was declared safe by about 6 a.m. that day.

The pipeline was installed in 1954. Rider said he didn’t know whether the ruptured section had been replaced over the years since. He said he didn’t think the incident posed any danger to the public.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is investigating the pipeline failure because it was an interstate pipeline.

Tallgrass Interstate Gas Transmission LLC, a subsidiary of Tallgrass Energy Partners, owns and operates about 5,100 miles of pipelines in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Wyoming.

Tallgrass Interstate reported the incident to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nebraska Public Service Commission, as required by federal regulations.

The Nebraska commission said the damaged pipeline section was repaired and Tallgrass received approval from federal regulators to put the pipeline back into service at a reduced operating pressure. Service was partially restored on Friday.