NewsNewsChannel 5 Investigates


Permit Application Reveals Danger Of Natural Gas Line

Posted at 6:28 PM, Jul 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-07 14:17:23-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - They have been shocking predictions -- a half mile wide explosion, with deaths nearby.

That's what an energy company told the state could happen if a natural gas line ruptured in Northern Davidson County.

It was in a document obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

The company, Tennessee Gas Pipeline, has been hoping to build a compressor station in Northern Davidson County that would pump even more natural gas under the county.

But Tennessee Gas Pipeline and its new parent company Kinder Morgan have been trying to distance themselves from what it told the state five years ago after the 2010 flood.

Tanya Dennis couldn't believe what happened to Sycamore Creek during the flood.

"It was amazing, so I got out my camera," Dennis remembered.

The creek raged across her property.

But she was most alarmed by what she found days later, after the water went down.

"I had a lot of concerns about how exposed that pipeline had become," Dennis said.

Her video showed a large section of natural gas pipeline was suddenly above ground.

But Dennis said she never knew just how serious the situation was.

A 2011 permit application filed by the owner, Tennessee Gas Pipeline, revealed the exposed pipeline put the neighboring community at risk of a devastating explosion.

Click here to view the application.

The company warned if the pipeline wasn't repaired it could lead to a potential explosion that would impact an area an "approximate 1/2 mile in diameter."

"That means I'm gone. My home and me and several of my neighbors and all my animals. We'd just be gone," Dennis said.

The application further stated an explosion could lead to "potential human fatalities in the adjacent community."

"They're pretty much admitting they can't guarantee the viability of this thing and people's safety," Dennis said.

That pipeline was eventually covered.

But now Tennessee Gas Pipeline, and Kinder Morgan, have been proposing a new compressor station in the area.

It would not connect to the pipe on Dennis's property, but it would pump more natural gas through pipes near her home.

Ken Jakes has been fighting the compressor station and made the public records requests that found Tennessee Gas Pipeline's state application revealing the potential for a major explosion.

"I have a concern about the integrity of the line according to those documents," Jakes said.

Kinder Morgan sent us a statement distancing the company from the permit application.

A spokesman blamed "an outside consultant" for using his "own words" and said the company disagreed "with his exaggerated view of a potential impact area in the event of a natural gas release."

But the permit application clearly showed the signature of a Tennessee Gas Pipeline official who certified it as being "true, accurate and complete" under possible penalties of "fines and imprisonment."

"I can guarantee you if you had a public hearing that information would never have come out. They're not going to say something like that was a risk factor," Jakes said.

The company has faced strong opposition at public meetings on the proposed compressor station.
Officials regularly tout the safety of its pipes and the plan, but Kinder Morgan has faced tough questions about it's safety record.

The federal agency that regulates pipelines has cited Kinder Morgan for -- failing to inspect pipelines as required.

"Everybody knows if you slack on the maintenance, your profits are going to be up, but at what cost," Jakes asked.

Kinder Morgan insisted its lines are safe, and claimed it spends hundreds of millions of dollars on maintenance.

The company said it's safety record is as good or better than peers in its industry.

But Tanya Dennis and Ken Jakes believe Tennessee Gas Pipeline's communication with the state reveals the true danger of the natural gas lines going through Davidson County.

"I'm concerned about my family, but I'm concerned about all these individuals whose lives are in danger," Jakes said.

Below is Kinder Morgan's entire statement on the permit application Tennessee Gas Pipeline filed with the state in 2011.

"The 26-inch natural gas pipeline that crosses Sycamore Creek that TGP completely remediated and repaired after area flooding will not be connected to pipelines serving Compressor Station 563, or the compressor station itself, as part of the Broad Run Expansion Project. It connects to another TGP pipeline segment.

An outside consultant filed an application on July 18, 2011, with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (Division of Water Control) and outlined in his own words and opinion why creek bank stabilization was necessary using worst-case phraseology to make his points. In large part, we take issue with what he outlined in the Section 10 – Alternatives as they relate to worst-case effects on the surrounding community and disagree with his exaggerated view of a potential impact area in the event of a natural gas release. "

From Richard Wheatley - Kinder Morgan