Western Iowa experiences natural gas leak


Photo by Bill Roehl, Flickr

Last weekend a natural gas pipeline leaked near the Missouri River floodplain in Monona County.

Read more from NCNewsPress.com:

 A pipeline carrying natural gasoline developed a leak over the weekend, with the potential to lose about 140,000 gallons of gasoline in the Missouri River floodplain southwest of Onawa.

Enterprise Products of Houston, Tex., reported a drop in pipeline pressure to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources at 4:30 a.m. Saturday. The pressure drop occurred at 2:30 a.m. in a section of 8-inch pipe that runs under the Missouri River from Decatur, Neb., east to Interstate 29 just west of Onawa.

Company officials were able to shut the pipeline down on both sides of the river, estimating the maximum amount of gasoline in the pipe to be 140,742 gallons. They had teams searching for the leak by 4:30 a.m. The company tried to verify and locate the break on the ground, from a plane and from a boat.

By 4 p.m., they suspected the break was on the Iowa side of the river in the flood plain, but still did not have a specific location. The company is pumping the gasoline that remains in the pipeline into trucks. If flood water shows up as they pump, that may help the company locate the break. If not, officials plan to send divers to look early next week.

Natural gasoline is not natural gas. It is an unrefined light-weight liquid, clear to light amber in color. It smells of petroleum and floats on water. It is heavier than air. The product has likely floated on down river. Even if the gasoline is found, it would be dangerous and difficult to recover in the turbulent flood conditions.

The DNR notified downstream water supplies in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Blair and Omaha, Neb., to alert the operators of possible petroleum contamination. The DNR also notified the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. The company notified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Nebraska.

A second pipeline carrying propane runs in the same trench as the natural gasoline. Company officials are using a flare to burn off propane on the Nebraska side of the river as a precaution.

The DNR is not considering enforcement actions.

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