A few days ago I wrote about a new pipeline from Lake Charles to St James Parish in which I touted pipeline safety (click here) plus the jobs it produces and I noted that in some ten years in the 'oilfield' I'd only seen a couple of pipeline incidents, while more often attending to clients at various truck rollovers, train derailments, barge and tanker leaks and so on.

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In October 1994 days of torrential Texas rains caused the San Jacinto River (if you go to Houston you have to cross the 'bumpy' San Jacinto River bridge on I-10) literally changed the course of the river and basically washed two large gasoline and oil pipelines out of the ground, resulting in a big fire and the ensuing environmental cleanup.

So while pipelines are quiet, efficient and effective and provide lots of jobs building and maintaining them - things can and do happen.  Last night about 7PM a natural gas condensate 30 inch line near Hwy 90 around Paridis, Louisiana exploded in flames for (as of now) fully unknown reasons.  That location is kind of south of Kenner and LaPlace near New Orleans. The line was being cleaned by contractors and company men when a valve or gasket leaked, six workers inclusive of 3 contractors were injured, one is still missing.

In our part of the country - oil equals good paying jobs from the lowest 'swamper' on an oil field service truck to the manager of a large refinery, CEO of the company and all the employees, contractors, control-room operators, riggers, drillers, mom and pop restaurants, hot-shot drivers, welders-fitters, safety companies and on and on down to the beer sold out of convenience store ice buckets each afternoon.

This week was marked by two tragic industrial incidents, one in DeRidder and last nights pipeline problem, it's a way of life in these parts. Hydrocarbons are volatile, but it's what powers our country and pays our salaries.

I still maintain that pipelines are safer and more reliable than other transport means, but things will happen.  This week we were sadly reminded of things that can suddenly go wrong out there. Always hug and kiss your loved ones before they leave - always be as safe as you can.