Kentucky Pipeline Incident Update – 3:00 p.m. ET/2:00 p.m. CT
Updates can be found online at http://www.columbiapipelinegroup.com/en/about-us/news-room/pipeline-incident-update.aspx
Click here on Headline News for complete coverage of this morning’s explosion.
A letter to our neighbors in Knifley from Shawn Patterson – President, Operations and Project Delivery, Columbia Pipeline Group:
Early this morning, an incident occurred in Knifley, Kentucky on our natural gas transmission pipeline in Adair County.
We are working closely with our neighbors who have been affected by this incident.
We deeply regret that two individuals were injured this morning as a result of the incident, and are thankful that both have been released from the hospital and that there are no further reports of injuries. We recognize the hardship this incident has had on all those affected, and are committed to working with local agencies to provide for and to meet the immediate needs of the community.
We are thankful for the assistance we have received.
It is during difficult situations like these that we recognize the importance of coming together as one community to support each other. I am proud of the dedication and commitment of so many first responders, our employees and members of the community. The tremendous support provided to us is truly invaluable and we will be working to find ways to recognize and thank these groups for all that they do. I also want to recognize the residents and community organizations of Knifley for their actions following the incident – thank you for helping your fellow neighbors.
We are committed to safety.
At Columbia Pipeline Group, we believe our primary responsibility is to ensure public safety through responsible operations. We are fully committed to working with all appropriate authorities to conduct a thorough and complete investigation into the cause of this incident. We will take whatever steps necessary to continue to provide safe and reliable natural gas transportation through our pipeline transmission system.
We are proud to be a part of your community.
Employees have lived, worked and served in Kentucky for more than 100 years. I know I speak for all of our employees when I say we are proud to be a part of your community. I want you to have confidence in the fact that Columbia Pipeline Group is committed to doing everything it takes to make things right.
We will continue to help the families of Adair County — both by our actions and our contribution to the community.
Columbia Pipeline Group
Kentucky Pipeline Incident Update – 1:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. CT
February 13, 2014
Investigation Under Way: We have received several inquiries seeking speculation as to a potential cause of today’s incident, as well as detailed information about the pipeline, including operating and inspection history. These are all understandable and important questions, and they will be a central focus of the incident investigation process that began even as our emergency response teams were working to make the area safe early today.
Our investigative team mobilized immediately upon notification of this incident. We have team members on site in Adair County, working closely with appropriate local, state and federal authorities to review all aspects of the incident, including factors such as the operating, inspection and maintenance history of the pipeline, environmental conditions at the time of the rupture, and outside activity that may have taken place in the area. This investigation may take some time, but it is vital to providing assurance to the public that we understand and appropriately address the cause of the incident. Throughout this process, we will work with members of the public and all appropriate authorities to provide facts and updated information as they become available.
Additional Details Regarding Timeline: Here is updated information regarding the sequence of events this morning. Columbia Gulf Transmission estimates that the approximate time of the pipeline rupture was between 2:00 and 2:15 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Thursday, Feb. 13. Columbia Gulf operations personnel were dispatched to the scene shortly after 2:15 a.m. EST. At approximately 2:45 a.m. EST operations personnel shut a main line valve on Line 200, stopping the flow of natural gas to the rupture area. The damaged portion of the pipeline was isolated at approximately 3:00 a.m. EST.
Additional Details Regarding System: In general, this system has been safely operating since the mid-1950s and 1960s. It transports natural gas from producing regions to markets in the Midwest and eastern US. We are able to maintain those deliveries for our customers today using alternative pipelines. Again, our immediate focus is on safety and community support, and additional details will come as our investigation continues.
Again, we would like to thank the local and state responders on site for their continued support and assistance. We will continue to work with responders and with community members to assist with anything they may need.
Kentucky Pipeline Incident Update – 9:00 a.m. ET/8:00 a.m. CT
February 13, 2014
Knifley, KY – While we regret that two individuals were injured this morning as a result of our ruptured pipeline, we are pleased to report that both have been released from the hospital. We remain thankful that there were no further injuries. Our staff is on site and speaking with those individuals, as well as reaching out to the local Red Cross, to offer any assistance that would help the community during this time. Columbia is and remains committed to our neighbors in Kentucky.
At this time, there is no impact to commercial operations on Columbia Gulf and no impact to Columbia Gas Transmission.
We would like to continue to thank all of the local responders, including the volunteer fire department, the state fire marshal, local and state police and all other agencies involved. We appreciate the continued support and assistance with securing the site and ensuring the safety of local residents and employees.
Kentucky Pipeline Incident Update – 6:30 a.m. ET/7:30 a.m. CT
February 13, 2014
Knifley, KY – At approximately 2:05 a.m. ET/1:05 a.m. CT, Columbia Gulf Transmission LLC operating teams detected a drop in pressure on the company’s Line 200 pipeline in Adair County, Ky. Our operating crews immediately responded to the alert and determined that there was a rupture in the pipeline.
We activated our emergency response procedures and took steps to isolate the damaged portion of the pipeline. The flow of gas was stopped to the damaged pipeline shortly thereafter.
Our trained response teams are working with emergency responders now to assure the safety and security of the area where the rupture occurred. We don’t yet know the cause but will be working with the appropriate authorities to conduct a thorough and complete investigation.
We know that there has been damage to homes and there are reports of injuries, as well as an evacuation of the surrounding community. A critical and immediate priority for our team is to work with local responders to meet the immediate needs of our neighbors.
At this time, we are focused on making the area safe and working with federal, state and local authorities, but we will continue to provide updates when we have more information.
State Senator Sara Beth Gregory (R-Monticello) will brief constituents on the 2014 legislative session at the Adair Co. Annex basement meeting room on Monday, January 6, 2014, from 8 – 9:30 a.m. Everyone is invited to attend.
“I’m looking forward to visiting with constituents in Adair County on Monday morning and sharing information about the upcoming session,” said Gregory. “I plan to hold several of these events throughout the 16th District, and I look forward to listening to concerns and answering questions from my constituents about the issues facing our state.”
Gregory became Adair County’s senator after redistricting in 2013. She represents Adair, Taylor, Russell, Cumberland, Clinton, Wayne and McCreary counties.
The Lake Cumberland Area Development District is holding a public hearing tonight at 6:00 p.m. in courthouse annex regarding the grants to create a satellite campus of the Lake Cumberland Area Technology Center at Adair County High School.
Community support from business, education, community leaders and general public is an important piece for the satellite vocational/technical school campus. Judy Keltner (LCADD) and Superintendent Alan Reed would appreciate your presence if only to drop in, sign the sheet and make a quick comment for the record.
This construction project at ACHS falls between $1.1 and $1.2 million dollars, with all but around $300K coming from two federal grants going through LCADD and county and city governments.
Student surveys indicate over 500 students interested in either the welding/metal fabrication program or the health sciences program. All students are expected to be both college and/or career ready at ACHS and final approval of this project would be a big boost for student achievement and for the local economy of Columbia/Adair County.
The process that got us to where we are is pretty complex, and the recall petition played a small role in that. Let’s look at the big picture.
The hospital district took out two loans from Farmers National Bank of Danville, both for over $6 million each. You are only hearing about the one, however, because it was a general operating bond, a loan with the backing of the government based on a municipality’s ability to pay it back with a tax base. The other loan is sitting with the other $8 million of debt being addressed in bankruptcy court.
The hospital district defaulted on the loan, the bank sued, then the hospital district made some payments on it. Nobody at the hospital would admit they intentionally defaulted on the loan so it could be addressed in court, but nobody denied it either.
The bank and the hospital wanted the same thing–to levy a tax. Let’s face it, they need the revenue and the hospital is a taxing district, so it seems logical that taxpayers would take part in the process of footing the bill.
A 3.7 cents tax would not have been enough. In fact, the 10 cents is not enough to pay the debt in the timeframe set by the loan. It would require something like a 50 cents tax to actually pay the one bill before the end of the loan period.
The 10 cents will, however, pay the monthly payments. Payments were set at a monthly rate of $47,460.90 (or close to $570,000 a year) with a balloon payment of $6.2 million due in October 2015. The 10 cents tax will provide around $573,000 for the hospital district this year. God only knows what will happen when the balloon payment comes due in two years.
So, the point is, theoretically, the hospital and the bank would have gone to court regardless of the outcome of the 3.7 cents tax, because it wouldn’t have paid the bill.
Ironically, the taxpayers who signed the petition participated in the only part of the process where taxpayers have had a voice.
The court ruling basically means the constitutional obligation to repay a general operating bond takes precedence over your rights to recall a tax rate increase, which is state law. It apparently also overrides a state law that says a hospital taxing district cannot set a tax higher than 10 cents, although for now that won’t be tested.
So, instead of being upset with a group of people who signed a petition, you might want to wrap your mind around this:
According to this court ruling, if an irresponsible municipality can find a likeminded irresponsible bank to loan funds based on a tax that does not currently exist, then the municipality can share the wealth with family and friends, run the municipality into the ground, and all state laws protecting taxpayers go out the window.
Taxpayers have had no representation in this whole process. There’s nobody interested in appealing or questioning any part of the court’s ruling, because both parties involved wanted the same thing.
So, if you want to be angry, don’t waste your energy by being angry with taxpayers who signed a petition. It’s irrelevant in the scheme of things. Basing a loan on a tax that doesn’t even exist? Then being able to set a tax retroactively several years later that overrides state law through the force of the courts? I find that terrifying, and you should too.
THE BABY AND THE BATHWATER
With that said, let’s keep one thing in mind. The hospital board has followed a legal process throughout this ordeal. The board in 2010 had the right to borrow money. This current board had the right, and obligation, to generate tax revenue to pay the bills.
This whole thing stinks but we can’t, as the saying goes, throw the baby out with the bathwater. The hospital district is our baby. Just like other government bodies–city, county, utilities, other taxing districts–the decisions they make affect us. When they mess us, we pay for it.
It’s a costly reminder of what can happen when “the people” get comfortable and our elected or appointed officials get complacent.
Even so, not supporting the hospital will not help us. It would be no different than abandoning a child that lays down on a train track. Stupid move, he should have known better, but he’s still yours.
The best thing we can do for ourselves is to help the hospital succeed. I’d rather pay 10 cents this year and for years to come than foot the $20 million bill that could become ours if the doors shut.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but rebelling against Westlake is not the answer. There are plenty of things to be angry about here, but let’s not waste our energy lashing out where it doesn’t belong.