Police Investigating Bomb Hoax at Texas Pipeline Construction Site

HOUSTON (Reuters) — Federal and Texas law enforcement agencies are investigating a device made to look like a bomb placed at a construction site for the Permian Highway natural gas pipeline, an official said. 


"It was intentionally placed there," Chief Deputy Neal Leonard of the Blanco County Sheriff's Office said on Wednesday. "It looked like an explosive device. There was a cylinder with wires coming out of it connected to a large 9-volt battery."

The Austin, Texas, Police Department Bomb Squad determined the device to be a fake, Leonard said. Blanco County is located west of Austin.

Kinder Morgan, lead partner of the $2.3-billion Permian Highway Pipeline project, resumed construction at the Blanco County site on Wednesday, a day after work was halted following discovery of the device, Ruiz said.

"We are thankful for the quick response of local law enforcement, and we are assisting in the ongoing investigation into this criminal activity," she said. 

In addition to the Blanco County Sheriff's Office, the Texas Rangers, Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating. 

There have been no claims of responsibility for the package, said Sergeant Deon Cockrell of the Texas Department of Public Safety. 

The 428-mile (689 km) pipeline that stretches from the Permian Basin oilfield in west Texas to the U.S. Gulf Coast has faced challenges from local officials, celebrities, and environmentalists opposed to its path through sensitive wetlands and areas occupied by endangered species.

Pipeline construction crews drilling under a river earlier this year hit an open area underground, spilling drilling mud that tainted drinking water.

The pipeline is about 90% complete and commercial operation is scheduled to begin early next year. It will carry up to 2.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day and is owned by Kinder Morgan, Exxon Mobil, Altus Midstream and Blackstone Group's EagleClaw Midstream Ventures.

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