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Accident Report Detail

Natural Gas Pipeline Rupture and Fire

Executive Summary

At 5:26 a.m., mountain daylight time, on Saturday, August 19, 2000, a 30-inch-diameter natural gas transmission pipeline operated by El Paso Natural Gas Company ruptured adjacent to the Pecos River near Carlsbad, New Mexico. The released gas ignited and burned for 55 minutes. Twelve persons who were camping under a concrete-decked steel bridge that supported the pipeline across the river were killed and their three vehicles destroyed. Two nearby steel suspension bridges for gas pipelines crossing the river were extensively damaged. According to El Paso Natural Gas Company, property and other damages or losses totaled $998,296.​

Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the August 19, 2000, natural gas pipeline rupture and subsequent fire near Carlsbad, New Mexico, was a significant reduction in pipe wall thickness due to severe internal corrosion. The severe corrosion had occurred because El Paso Natural Gas Company’s corrosion control program failed to prevent, detect, or control internal corrosion within the company’s pipeline. Contributing to the accident were ineffective Federal preaccident inspections of El Paso Natural Gas Company that did not identify deficiencies in the company’s internal corrosion control program.

Accident Location: Carlsbad , NM    
Accident Date: 8/19/2000
Accident ID: DCA00MP009

Date Adopted: 2/11/2003
NTSB Number: PAR-03-01
NTIS Number: PB2003-916501