Unityville Burt Pipeline

A Pipeline Burst Close to Home

When I was a kid, we used to fish for catfish and bluegill in a small pond. A pipeline ran on one side of the pond, and the mud there was rainbow-colored. We’d cast our lines from the other side. I wouldn’t say I ever liked that pipelines, but the valleys I’m from are crisscrossed by them. They never seemed like something you’d want more of, but they never seemed scary either. Just like power lines or roads.

My thoughts started changing years later, when they Keystone XL line was being debated. I learned about it, but didn’t do anything. Then, this past year I started hearing things about the Atlantic Sunrise, a massive pipeline being proposed to run natural gas to the coast, where it can be exported. People were getting riled up all along the line, and so I thought, “I’m in.”

I’m with the people who don’t want it run through their land. I heard about the dangers of the pipeline too, but I didn’t think much of that at first. As I started paying attention, I saw that pipelines explode more frequently than you’d think. Then I learned it was running past the Glen Burn Mine Fire. Is it worth the risk building it so close to the fire?

Unityville Pipeline Blast Site
Unityville Pipeline Blast Site

A natural gas pipeline burst near Unityville, PA. My friends could hear it across those 4 miles and caught the rotten egg smell in the air. About 130 people were evacuated overnight. “Then there was this continuous loud roar, really loud. At first, I thought it was a tornado. It sounded like 10 trains. It was scary,” one local woman said to a local paper.Last week, the dangers came close to home. 4 miles close, that is, to a small farm my friends run.

The pipeline that blew belongs to Williams, a Texas-based corporation, and the same company trying to build the new Atlantic Sunrise line.

Luckily the burst didn’t hurt anyone. Given that, the worst part of the accident is the company’s attitude.

They were quick to play it off. WNEP reported, “Workers from Williams Gas Pipeline Company say once the pipeline broke the gas went straight up in the air and dissipated.” They said that the rotten egg smell (an additive) is all that spread on the ground. I’m sorry, but that BS smells worse than the gas does.

Burst Pipeline
Burst natural gas pipeline. Unityville, PA

You could call what happened a lot of things: burst, explosion, rupture. But the company wants to call it a “leak,” which sounds more like how you’d describe a garden hose or an oil pan.

Williams Company posted a security guard at the burst site who tried to stop my friend from taking a photo. As she puts it, “They weren’t stopping us just from taking pics. They didn’t want people to pull over and look at it.” Why else would security be there? The accident already happened.

Williams is hoping the gas line burst doesn’t fuel resistance to the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. There are already hundreds, if not thousands, of people opposing it all along the route, which runs through 10 PA counties.

The federal government is now investigating the pipeline burst.

Despite the William’s efforts, there is much more resistance to the Atlantic Sunrise after last week. As for me, I’m definitely with them. I’m glad my friends are safe, and I don’t trust this company for anything.

Pipeline Resistance
Residents opposing the Atlantic Sunrise, one week after the Unityville burst.

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