Malfunction at gas pipeline plant forces residents to evacuate - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Malfunction at gas pipeline plant forces residents to evacuate

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HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

People who live in Hancock County's Ansley community were awakened by a loud rumbling sound Wednesday morning and then some were told to leave their homes.

Something had happened at the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Plant on Lower Bay Road and for many, it brought back memories of an explosion there 16 years ago. Some residents say better safety measures are long overdue.

Jennifer Harvey lives directly behind the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Compressor Station. She's so close she can see the plant from her property.

"It started like a low frequency noise and then it steadily got louder and louder and louder," said Harvey. "Then it got so loud I thought it was going to blow my windows in. My whole house was shaking. My pictures almost fell off my walls it was so bad."

The last time people around here heard that sound was in 1997, when there was an explosion and fire at the plant.

"And blew the building, just destroyed it," resident Tyrone Fountain remembered.

Fearing history repeating itself, sheriff's deputies and firefighters started to evacuate nearby residents. Most of them went to the main gates at the Port Beinville Industrial Park.

"We kind of congregated right there," said Fountain.

 

"It's very frightening because I have kids, and if that plant blows up, my house goes with it," Harvey said.

A company spokesman told WLOX News, Tennessee Gas was investigating what caused a relief valve to malfunction. The plant's neighbors say the compressor station is automated and that's the problem. They'd like to see the plant manned 24/7.

"Up until that fire in '97, we never had any trouble with it because somebody was always there. But they put it all on computers. It's supposed to take care of itself," said resident Beverly Ladner.

"Other than hearing pressure blow, there is no kind of whistles, no kind of bells, no kind of alarm to alarm people nothing like that," Fountain said.

The spokesman for the company told the residents their request for more safety measures has been passed onto corporate officials in Houston, Texas.

The Tennessee Gas facility has been in Hancock County more than 50 years. It transfers natural gas from the Gulf of Mexico to inland locations.

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