A natural gas pipeline exploded early yesterday (February 15) around 12:30 a.m. in Refugio, Texas, a rural area about 45 miles north of Corpus Christi, Texas. Within two hours, the company, with help from the county and nearby communities, had put out the fire.
Though the accident didn’t injure anyone, residents more than 50 miles away could see—and feel—the blast, according to several local news reports. Refugio County Emergency Management Coordinator Stan Upton told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that the county received calls from as far as Katy, Texas, which is approximately 160 miles north of where the explosion happened. “A lot of people saw this thing,” he said.
The video below (which contains profanity) comes from the Facebook page of Jake Ramirez, who lives in Victoria, Texas, about 45 miles away.
Kinder Morgan Inc. owns the pipeline, which is connected to the company’s Tejas pipeline system that totals approximately 3,400 miles of pipe. The system traffics natural gas along the Texas Gulf Coast throughout the state, but the company overlooks pipeline systems and terminals throughout the country, including Louisiana, Tennessee, New York and Colorado.
A publicly traded company with a history of acquiring other energy entities, Kinder Morgan describes itself as “the largest natural gas network operator in North America.”
This accident comes as environmentalists around the country are putting pressure on energy companies to stay out of their towns. In Texas, specifically, water protectors are contesting the Trans Pecos and Comanche Trail pipelines—both owned by Energy Transfer Partners, the same developer of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Both projects are already underway, but that hasn’t stopped opponents from putting their bodies on the line to stop them. A common tactic includes locking themselves to construction equipment.
In Louisiana, more activists are battling the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline, which is still in its early stages. The state has yet to fully approve the project, but pipeline opponents are using a separate pipeline explosion that killed and injured two workers on February 9 to shed light on the risks that come with these energy projects.