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Columbia Gas pays county for explosion costs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The owner of a pipeline that exploded in Sissonville in December has cut a check to the Kanawha County Commission to cover expenses associated with the incident.

NiSource-owned Colombia Gas Transmission sent a $231,480 check to the Kanawha County Commission this morning, County Manager Jennifer Sayre said.

The majority of this money will be used to cover the cost of fixing Interstate 77 near Sissonville. The interstate was burned to a crisp when a 20-inch natural gas transmission line exploded, sending flames a reported 80 feet into the air.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation will receive $165,286 for fixing the four lanes of interstate, which were closed due to the damage, Sayre said.

The county offered to handle the billing for all of the public agencies involved in the response, including the state, Commission President Kent Carper said.

"The DOT fixed that road in nine hours," Carper said. "I have no problem handling their billing for them."

The rest of the money will be allocated to the emergency agencies that responded to the incident, Carper said. That would include the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department, and fire departments that responded, Sayre said.

The funds will be used to cover staff time as well as use of county and state vehicles, Carper said. 

Sayre hopes to submit checks to these agencies by the end of the week, she said.

NiSource officials had asked the agencies to provide the company with a list of expenses incurred during the explosion, Carper said.

Sayre and other county staff then contacted the Sissonville Fire Department to ask for a list of all the agencies that responded, Sayre said. The department provided the list and the county contacted the agencies to get a total on expenses, she said.

The county then submitted the list of expenses to NiSource, Sayre said.

"That amount didn't have any expenses that weren't incurred by taxpayers," Carper said.

The county will submit a supplemental expense sheet if employees discover other expenses, he said.

The check only covers expenses by public agencies and does not deal with private property damage, Carper said.

However, the company continues to work with residents whose property was damaged in the December explosion.

A pipeline under I-77 ruptured and exploded on Dec. 11. No serious injuries occurred during the incident, but four homes were completely destroyed in the explosion.

Numerous others were damaged and residents in the area were forced to live in a local hotel while the damage was assessed.

Interstate 77 and County Route 21 were both closed during the incident.     

Contact writer Paul Fallon at paul.fallon@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817. Follow him at www.twitter.com/PaulBFallon.  


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