Investigation Continues Into Williams Pipeline Explosion - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Investigation Continues Into Williams Natural Gas Pipeline Explosion

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The investigation continued Tuesday after Monday's pipeline explosion at the Williams Natural Gas Facility The investigation continued Tuesday after Monday's pipeline explosion at the Williams Natural Gas Facility

PLUMOUTH, WA - The investigation continued Tuesday after Monday's pipeline explosion at the Williams Natural Gas Facility

Fire crews Tuesday continued assisting gas plant personnel who are trying to assess the damage after Monday's explosion that punctured several holes into a large tank containing liquefied natural gas. 

At around 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, officials lifted the evacuation order and people were allowed to return home safely.

"It's a very unique situation, one that in my 25 years of response in this area that I've never had any experience with," said Capt. Jeff Ripley, Benton County Fire District 1.

As of Tuesday evening, the punctured gas tank was still leaking and it is unknown how long it will take for crews to make repairs. At the time of the explosion the tank contained about 7 million gallons of liquid gas.

"Trying to get all of the pressure out of the whole system at the plant so there's no pressure whatsoever in there and that would eliminate most of the risk to the community around here," said Capt. Devin Helland, Benton County Fire District 1. 
     
After the evacuation order was lifted, the only restricted area was the gas plant itself.
   
At around 1:30 Tuesday afternoon, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Rail opened train traffic in the area.
     
The rail lines are about 50 yards from the gas facility and train sparks could have led to an explosion with vapors in the air.

The trains will be moving slower than usual.

On a daily basis around 40 trains pass through the area but officials want to warn residents to look out for increased train traffic due to the closure.

An investigator from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission is in the area interviewing at least four of the employees that were injured in Monday' explosion.

On a daily basis there are about 16 workers at the plant.
     
Once UTC gets safety clearance from local authorities and pipeline personnel they will be able to go into the plant and continue the investigation.

They will use infrared radar to look for hot spots and work toward determining a cause for the explosion, but that could take months.

Fire crews said they could see huge metal debris spread out around the facility. They said it was an impressive site to see.

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