Page 11 - Mississippi 811 Magazine 2022 Issue 3
P. 11

Five crewmen are dead due to a cutter suction dredge that struck a propane pipeline August 21, 2020, in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel’s Inner Harbor. The gas ignited, causing an explosion aboard the dredge.
Just two years earlier and approximately 50 miles away, the same type of incident occurred. In April 2018, a dredge struck a natural gas line with an explosion that demolished the dredge. In this incident, the crew was very lucky to escape with their lives, due solely to a very alert worker who saw gas bubbles rising around the dredge’s spud and took immediate action before the explosion occurred. Statistics have shown an average of one fatality per year occurs from a vessel and pipeline interaction. These accidents have led to increased focus and new efforts at Texas811 in marine and underwater utility damage prevention. In a proactive move, Texas811 has recently employed a resource to expand new capabilities, support and resources
in Texas and co-lead a national collaboration between the pipeline, utility, 811 damage prevention and marine construction stakeholders.
The National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) investigators have recently released their findings outlining
the events that led up to the Port of Corpus Christi dredge explosion. Their report finds the incident was caused by a series of events that began when the dredge vessel hit an underwater propane pipeline and ended in the deaths of five of its crew and others injured after the dredge originally caught fire. Eighteen employees were working on the dredge the morning of the explosion. Six of 14 crew members were airlifted to burn units in San Antonio.
The report states the fire reignited later that night, precipitating the dredge sinking overnight. Pieces of the pipeline and
the barge have been transported to NTSB labs for further examination.
It is very unfortunate this tragedy occurred less than a month after the first-ever online marine pipeline safety training module was released and one year after a Marine Vessel and Pipeline Safety Best Practice was produced. We cannot help but think if these training materials had been implemented, perhaps there is a small chance these crew lives could have been saved.
August 21, 2022, will make 2 years since the Corpus Christi accident occurred. A national Pipeline Task Force (PTF) has been formed and hosted a workshop in New Orleans June 9, 2022, that was co-led by Ed Landgraf, the new Texas811 Director of Marine Safety and attended by other key Texas811 staff.
The working group consisted of over 50 diverse participants representing the dredge, marine construction, 811, pipeline, PHMSA, NTSB, and US Coast Guard sectors. The team evaluated the NTSB findings, recommendations, current dredge and pipeline company positions and captured feedback from
the PTF stakeholders resulting in over 40 proactive suggestions. A general consensus was reached to expand on 5 key topics to enhance safety and reduce risk. They are: Enhance Training and Education, Modify Marine Tolerance Zones, Mapping/ Survey and Marking, One Call/ Damage Prevention – as it relates
to underwater excavation, Communications and Planning.
The goals are to expand each of the 5 topics and take action through enhanced best practices, education and training. To
be implemented and to be recognized as consistent national practices across the Dredge, Marine Construction, Pipeline, Regulatory, 811 and Agency stakeholder groups. To find out more or get resources, training and support contact Ed Landgraf at
2022, Issue 3
Mississippi 811 • 9

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