Propane line explosion rocks Warren County
By Lawrence Budd

Dayton Daily News, Warren County Bureau
10 May 2003

No one hurt, but schools, homes evacuated

CLEARCREEK TWP., Warren County

An explosion Friday in a gas pipeline in central Warren County left a large hole in a busy two-lane road.

Seventy homes and the Warren County Career Center were evacuated, but no injuries were reported.

About 11 a.m., 911 lines were flooded with calls about the explosion that preceded the rupture in the 8-inch high-pressure Texas Eastern Products Pipeline line. The explosion blew a hole in a nearby section of Ohio 122, north of the TEPPCO terminal in Clearcreek Twp.

Traffic was detoured, and the nearby vocational high school and homes ware evacuated. Billowing white clouds roiled northeast across the road.

Officials waited a half-mile away for the propane to drain from an 8-mile section of pipe blocked off after the explosion. Photographs indicated the gas was escaping near a valve system in the pipe, about 30 feet north of Ohio 122.

TEPPCO declined to comment on the cause, pending an investigation.

"That would just be pure speculation until our crews can get in there," spokeswoman Kathleen A. Sauve said.

Frank Young, director of Warren County Emergency Services, said the pipe's valving likely did not cause the explosion. "The assumption is that the pipe fatigued," he said.

Young said Friday's break was the first in the TEPPCO propane pipeline in Warren County. Sauve said a break of that kind was rare. Federal officials were unable to provide a safety record for the 4,100-mile pipeline Friday.

In March 1990, two people were killed and four injured when a break in a section of the same propane pipeline near North Blenheim, West of Albany, N.Y., triggered two explosions, leveling 10 houses and knocking out telephone and electric service.

On Friday, a U.S. Department of Transportation inspector huddled with state and local officials and representatives from TEPPCO and some of the 10 other companies operating facilities near the terminal.

At the terminal, gasoline and refined oil products from two other lines are transferred onto trucks.

Friday afternoon, the remaining propane was burned off, clearing the damaged section of pipe. Evacuated residents were expected to return to their homes by 6 p.m., Young said.

The career center students were transported to Springboro High School, where they were picked up by buses from their school districts, Springboro Superintendent David Baker said.

TEPPCO and federal officials will determine the cause and repair the pipe, officials said.

It was unclear how long motorists would be detouring around the section of 122 between Ohio 741 and 48, north of Lebanon. On Friday, TEPPCO officials declined to estimate how long the line would be under repair.

Contact Lawrence Budd at (513) 932-6776 or Staff Writer Kristin McAllister contributed to this report.

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(Original story no longer available online)