An explosion rocked a TransCanada pipeline in Moundsville, West Virginia and the surrounding community yesterday. Locals said it felt like a tornado and sounded like a freight train, and they could see flames from around 20 miles away, EcoWatch reported. TransCanada said in a statement they do not yet know the cause of the explosion.

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A natural gas pipeline exploded in West Virginia’s Marshall County, located right in the midst of the huge Utica and Marcellus shale formations, Reuters said. No employees were at the site when the pipeline ruptured around 4:15 a.m. EST, and the fire was at least a mile away from the closest home, Marshall County director of emergency management Tom Hart told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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The pipeline, called Leach XPress, was placed into service at the start of this year. At that time, TransCanada CEO Russ Girling referred to it as “truly a best-in-class pipeline” and said the company looked forward “to many years to safe, reliable and efficient operation on behalf of our customers.”

TransCanada said after the event, which they referred to as the Nixon Ridge Pipeline Incident, “emergency response procedures were enacted and the segment of impacted pipeline was isolated. The fire was fully extinguished by approximately 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. There were no injuries involved with this incident.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said officials from the U.S. Forestry Service and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection were on the site.

Hart told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette other companies were on the scene too — some operate pipelines just a few hundred feet away from the ruptured pipeline. He said some of those companies turned off the flow in their own pipelines, and that natural gas well operators shut down wells close by.

The event could impact around 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of gas service — Reuters reported that one billion cubic feet of gas could power around five million American homes.

Via EcoWatch, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Reuters

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