Despite inspections, explosions still occur - WSMV Channel 4

Despite inspections, explosions still occur

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

State investigators will begin combing through records to determine if Piedmont inspected its gas lines properly following an natural gas explosion in Bordeaux.

A spokesman for Piedmont said the gas line that ruptured was inspected in the last six months. But an earlier Channel 4 I-Team investigation found despite routine Piedmont inspections of a gas line in Antioch in 2007, a home still exploded from a natural gas leak.

The explosion happened in the parking lot of the Church of Jesus Christ on Clarksville Pike.

As nearby residents begin to replace smashed window shields and repair holes in buildings and ceilings from debris, state investigators with the Tennessee Regulatory Authority will review Piedmont's own internal records to see if they adequately inspected.

"We will go in and review records of this particular line to see if the federal code was complied with," said Larry Borum, chief of the TRA's gas pipeline safety division.

The Channel 4 I-Team has learned the gas line was a transmission line, meaning it was bigger and carried more natural gas than a typical gas line.

Piedmont crews were in the process of placing another gas line parallel to the transmission line at the time of the explosion.

Borum said the transmission line said it has been in place since the 1980s and is not considered old by industry standards.

Piedmont Spokesman David Trusty said the new gas line was put in place to eventually replace the existing transmission line.

It is unknown if the construction of the new gas line had anything to do with the explosion.

Even if state investigators find that Piedmont did all required inspections of its lines, a Channel 4 I-Team investigation found that leaks are not always found.

Sandra Daum survived a natural gas explosion at her home in Antioch in 2007.

The blast from that explosion blew apart her house, sent her to the hospital and caused blue flames to dance in her front yard.

A Channel 4 I-Team investigation found Piedmont had done all the required inspections of the gas line running in front of Daum's house, but a photograph of the gas main right underneath her driveway showed a large crack.

Daum's attorneys stated in court records that natural gas leaked through the crack and caused the explosion.

Piedmont responded that it is impossible to determine what caused the crack or the blast.

The Channel 4 I-Team found after the blast, two other gas leaks were found in that same Antioch neighborhood.

The TRA fined Piedmont for those additional gas leaks, but a Piedmont spokesman downplayed those additional leaks and said they weren't big enough to cause another explosion.

The explosions in Antioch and Bordeaux raise additional questions about the gas line inspection process.

Trusty said Piedmont has at least three different inspection processes that examine gas lines.

"I feel confident that the inspection and array of programs we have are adequate and are performing as they should," Trusty said.

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