Madison County

Using pipeline for liquids raised fears of explosions in Central Kentucky. Critics win.

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline crosses a portion of Herrington Lake between Boyle and Garrard counties. It carries natural gas, but a now-cancelled conversion would have meant it would carry natural gas liquids.
The Tennessee Gas Pipeline crosses a portion of Herrington Lake between Boyle and Garrard counties. It carries natural gas, but a now-cancelled conversion would have meant it would carry natural gas liquids. Lexington Herald-Leader file photo

A company has canceled plans to convert a 70-year-old Kentucky pipeline from natural gas service to the transport of hazardous natural gas liquids.

The project had drawn opposition in Boyle, Madison and other Kentucky counties as well as criticism from groups such as the Kentucky Environmental Foundation. The pipeline runs over Herrington Lake between Boyle and Garrard counties. Opponents were concerned about the risks of a 1940s-era pipeline carrying a heavier, more explosive substance.

In a statement Wednesday announcing a third-quarter dividend, Kinder Morgan Inc. of Houston said it “has determined that it will not proceed with its previously proposed” plan to convert the Tennessee Gas Pipeline from carrying natural gas to natural gas liquids.

The company said it will continue natural gas service in the line “while developing an attractive project to reverse its flow.” Furthermore, it said it is “pursuing commercial arrangements for natural gas service from Appalachia to the Gulf of Mexico on that segment of pipeline.”

Craig Williams, project director of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation, hailed the decision as a victory for the various governments and institutions that had opposed converting the pipeline.

“There is clearly, clearly, clearly less of a risk associated with reversing the flow of natural gas,” Williams said.

Williams said a coalition of groups will do an assessment to determine whether they want to oppose the company’s revised plan to reverse the flow of natural gas. “That decision has not been reached yet,” Williams said.

The pipeline runs 964 miles from Louisiana to northeast Ohio. It passes through 18 Kentucky counties, a total of 256 miles from Simpson County to Greenup County.

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