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As more information becomes available, Shelby countians are becoming more and more interested in the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline and its path from the shale-drilling areas of West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The Shelby chapter of the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth has organized an informational meeting for 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Stratton Center to tackle the subject. The group has invited a guest speaker to discuss the topic and plans to talk about what other KFTC chapters are doing in preparation of pipeline discussions.
The Bluegrass Pipeline will carry natural gas liquids, which is separated from natural gas through processing or cycling plants. NGLs include propane, butane and ethane among others and are valuable as a separate product.
The 500-mile Bluegrass Pipeline is being built as a partnership project between Williams, an energy infrastructure company, and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners and will connect to Boardwalk’s Texas Gas Transmission system in Hardinsburg, KY.
The 150-mile stretch of the Bluegrass Pipeline that runs through Kentucky crosses 13 counties – including Franklin and Anderson counties where it comes very close to the southeastern-most corner of Shelby County near the Graefenburg, Waddy, Harrisonville and Southville areas – before ending in Breckenridge County where it meets up with the current line.
However, if built through Shelby County the Bluegrass Pipeline would become one of four major intrastate pipelines in the county.
The U.S. Department of Transportation maps pipelines through its Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The map, which is state and county specific and can be viewed at www.npms.phmsa.dot.gov, shows two hazardous liquid transmission lines and one gas transmission line. The PHMSA is charged with overseeing lines that transmit across state boarders. Of the 2.6 million miles of intrastate pipelines in the United States, about 26,700 miles of that pipeline crisscrosses the state, and 48 miles, or about .5 percent, of that is in Shelby County.
The natural gas line, which is maintained by Atmos Energy, crosses into Shelby County from Louisville along U.S. 60 and then in Simpsonville moves south and runs parallel to Interstate 64 where it travels west to Franklin County.
One liquid line, the Mid-Valley Pipeline, ships crude from Toledo, Ohio to Longview, Texas where it meets the West Texas Gulf Pipeline. It runs north to south, crossing the Shelby County line near Smithfield and running southeast through Simpsonville and out of the county near south of Fisherville.
The other liquid line, operated by Marathon, carries gasoline and distillates from Lexington to Louisville where it meets up with a series of other lines. The gasoline line clips the southeast corner of the county near Mount Eden, not far from the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline route.
The PHMSA has not replied to a request by The Sentinel-News to find out when the current pipelines in the county were constructed. Although media spokesperson Damon Hill said the administration does not require companies to file when the pipeline was built, but instead the decade it was constructed.
According to incident data on the PHMSA’s Web site, there have been 55 incidents in Kentucky since 2003. Of those, there was one recorded fatality and 18 injuries, nearly $37 million in property damage, more than 11,000 barrels of hazardous liquid spilled and about 3,300 barrels lost.
The majority of the problems, about 47 percent, were caused by either equipment failure or excavation damage. The lone fatality came from a vehicle not engaged in excavation hitting the line.
Of those 55 incidents, only two were reported in Shelby County.
In 2003 and incident with the Mid-Valley line classified as natural force damage caused a little more than $12,000 worth of property damage in Simpsonville and 2 barrels of liquid crude were spilled.
This March Atmos Energy’s natural gas line reported $300,000 in damages near Shelbyville, but no injuries were reported.
While the federal government oversees and develops the regulations for the safe, reliable and environmentally sound operation intrastate pipelines, the Kentucky Public Service Commission oversees the distribution pipelines throughout the state.
Andrew Melnykovich, a public information officer at the PSC, said those distribution lines can be pretty large.
“There are a lot of distribution lines throughout Shelby County, and they can be fairly sizeable,” he said. “Often times they are feeder lines off of the transmission lines.”
That’s the case with the Atmos Energy, which shows a large gap on the federal map.
“That gap is where it goes into a distribution center [which is overseen and regulated by the PSC] and feeder lines come off it,” he said.
Melnykovich said the natural gas distribution lines in Shelby County are owned by LG&E and Atmos and another by the Housing Authority of Shelbyville.
“There are no intrastate gas pipelines in Shelby County,” he said. “The closest one would be Hardin County, and really that’s not even close.”
Melnykovich said he doesn’t recall any issues with lines in Shelby County.
“I can’t really think of any safety issues with lines in Shelby County,” he said. “The closest thing I can think of was a church blew up in Campbellsburg several years ago. But that was the result of a dig in, not a line issue.”
Bluegrass Pipeline meeting
WHAT:A meeting organized by the Shelby branch of the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
WHEN:6 p.m., Thursday
WHERE:Stratton Center, 215 Washington Street
WHY:To discuss the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline project with a guest speaker that will talk about the details of the project.