Pictures: Acres of devastation from Williams gas pipeline explosion in Alabama

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When pipelines explode there is no shortage of news reports covering the drama surrounding the blast and the blaze. But we rarely learn what happens after the fire is out and the TV cameramen have all gone home?

On December 3, 2011, a Williams-Transco pieline ruptured in Alabama. The explosion was heard more than 30 miles away and flames shot up nearly 100 feet in the air for 90 minutes after the pipeline was shut off. Since 2006, Williams-Transco has had 35 PHMSA reportable accidents. You can see a video and read an eye-witness account HERE.

The pipe was a 36″ diameter gathering line.  A 43 foot long section blew up and became a missile that landed 190 feet  away from the blast site and traveled over the tops of 70 to 80 foot high trees to get to its final resting place.

One landowner who grows a sustainable pine forest in the area of the blast lost 65 acres of trees.  Below is a portion of an email from this landowner:

I grow a sustainable pine forest on the land that has the pipeline running through it.  At this time I have an estimated loss of 65 acres of trees.  I have found no one that can tell me the long term effects to the soil.  My best guess is that I have 5 acres of soil that is like fired clay pottery.  The particles are actually hydrophobic.   There were no injuries.  I know they had run a pig through the week prior but had not received the data back form the contractor.  Three days after the explosion  they had some data back and they started making three more digs for repairs.

Hydrophobic means the clay pottery land now sheds water. Another American landowner, his family and their property has been sacrificed to shale gas.

I’ve scoured the internet and emailed reporters and I can find no follow up reporting on the aftermath and none of my emails have been answered.

Williams did some pigging just before this pipeline rupture but they didn’t receive the pigging results until after the explosion. The word from the locals in Alabama is that Williams is now frantically digging up parts of this same pipeline in several different locations which could indicate the problem is not isolated.Williams does not have a good track record of pipeline safety.

Tomorrow, Grand Prairie City Council will hear from Midstream how very safe it is to put pipelines like this one in neighborhoods.

About Sharon Wilson

Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.


  1. Kim Feil says

    I think they are putting in a pipeline (under the road) near the horse farm drill site in north Arlington by River Legacy Park, where Cooper street dead ends. Those signature screens are up in the middle of the road.

  2. Jana says

    When I first learned of this back in 2005, I phoned our Argyle fire chief to voice my concerns and to learn what training our first responders had been given when dealing with well fires, and blow outs, etc. His knowing response was one of concern of what was going to happen when our pipelines aged and how we were going to handle those problems, we are now 6 -7 years in here in Argyle. Yes, God help us.

  3. David says

    Lets not forget this one!
    This is eyewitness video from KCBS listener Scott Franke of the San Bruno pipe explosion and fire on September 9, 2010.

  4. buck thomas says

    not surprise question if old pipeline the and these compress staition add more hp what think going happen question what when lay 48 inch storage pipeline and tight with pipe been ground since 40s it dont take very smart people figure out like in va blowout why is the add more hp chatham va what think going to happen again

  5. John Hendry says

    William’s Blue Bridge Pipeline has stopped my being able to sell a house lot in White Salmon WA it goes through our neighborhood and to stop me from fighting the company here’s what the local politicians did to me. This is from today’s posts.

    If you want to see how ironic this is look at the Maluhia Country Ranches HOA in the President’s home State of Hawaii on Maui that’s Board member claimed to own the subdivision road so I couldn’t build while he built his 3rd house in a restricted setback area and forced me to file a lawsuit and then used the HOA’s political connections to control my own attorneys TO PROTECT THE INSURANCE COMPANIES. My own attorney/s changed sides and even bragged about in writing supporting the gang mentality of the attorneys. I have a letter from the Hawaii ODC that says they do not investigate attorneys to protect the attorneys.

    I moved to WA to get away from assaults and death threats in email the Hawaii police refused to investigate. I had a lot of money saved to build a home that went to pay attorneys and I did not give up the legal fight with the law 100% on my side. But after going through 5 attorneys in 9 years the case was ended 21 days before winning it at a Court ordered binding arbitration when the Klickitat Sheriffs in WA where I had moved showed up with a WA political lobbyist that learned of the case selling me a house and broke a Court order after evicting me from the house I was buying with a written sales contract presented in Court to take everything I own placed in storage to acquire the case evidence and legal papers and shipped it into Oregon where they knew I could not get the property back without it as I was selling much of it to pay the final legal fees.


  1. […] The pipeline Sabal Trail wants to connect to, Williams Transco in Alabama, blew up in 2011, flaming a hundred feet up, heard more than 30 miles away, left a crater more than 50 feet wide, destroyed 65 acres of trees, fried five acres of soil into pottery, and launched a 43-foot pipe section as a missile that landed 190 feet away. The cause was never announced. There was no construction going on, so could it be corrosion? Do we want another pipeline like that? […]