Williams' Gas Pipeline in Idaho Ruptures, Company Challenges Explosion Allegations

(P&GJ) — Idaho authorities issued a temporary evacuation order for approximately 10,000 residents following reports of a gas pipeline rupture in Middleton, Idaho. The incident occurred at a rural intersection on Thursday, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

The rupture took place when an excavator operator accidentally damaged a 22-inch (56-centimeter) natural gas pipeline near Middleton, a town with a population of around 10,600. Chief Deputy Douglas Hart of the Canyon County Sheriff's Office confirmed to AP that the excavator driver sustained minor injuries and was transported to a hospital.

The damaged pipeline forms part of an interstate network, owned by the Williams Companies, responsible for transporting natural gas across multiple northwestern U.S. states. The pipeline was operating at approximately 750 pounds of pressure per square inch (53 kilograms per square centimeter). In response to the rupture, authorities ordered the evacuation of an area covering roughly 4 square miles (10.4 square kilometers), which included the entire town of Middleton.

In an official statement via email, the Williams Companies contested the local authorities' account of the incident, asserting that their workers executed shutdown procedures and collaborated with first responders. They stated to AP that there was no ignition, fire, or explosion connected to the occurrence, and an investigation into the cause is underway.

Moments after the incident, local residents took to social media to report hearing a loud noise, with some likening it to the sound of low-flying aircraft. Chief David Jones of the Middleton Fire Department Battalion noted, "The explosion was substantial due to the pressure in the pipeline, and its impact could be felt up to a mile away."

The evacuation order was rescinded shortly afterward when the sheriff's office confirmed that the gas supply to the ruptured line had been successfully shut off. Residents were then instructed to "shelter in place" until the situation was fully under control.

Roads in the vicinity remained closed until the natural gas company could completely seal off the damaged portion. Middleton is situated approximately 33 miles (53 kilometers) west of Boise, Idaho.

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