November 8, 2011 9:17 pm

(Source: The Daily Gazette)
By Daily Gazette, Sterling, Ill.

Nov. 08–TAMPICO — An out-of-service propane line southeast of Tampico was nicked Monday afternoon, prompting the evacuation of a handful of homes but causing no apparent injuries.

Whiteside County Sheriff’s deputies were called to a farm on Jersey Road west of Hickory Hills Road around 2:30 p.m.

Whiteside County Sheriff Kelly Wilhelmi said it appears that a farmer working in his field accidentally cut the line, although Wilhelmi said he did not know with what.

Liquid started spewing out onto the ground and a cloud of gas formed. As a safety precaution, deputies evacuated about a half-dozen homes in a 1-mile radius, Wilhelmi said.

The farmer, who owns the land, tried to leave in his pickup but the gas caused the truck to stall. He was “coughing and hacking pretty good,” but did not require medical assistance, said Wilhelmi, who declined to release his name.

The propane line is owned by Kinder Morgan, a national pipeline and storage company.

The line was not in service, which means the pressure was far below normal, although there still was some propane in it, company spokeswoman Emily Mir said Monday evening.

The damaged section is now completely isolated and will be repaired Tuesday, Mir said.

She declined to speculate on what could have happened had the line been under full pressure.

She urges anyone who plans to dig in areas where pipelines or underground utilities are located to call 811, the JULIE call center, so someone can be sent to mark the lines’ location and digging can be safely done. (JULIE stands for Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators.)

To her knowledge, the Tampico farmer did not do so, Mir said.

Kinder Morgan (www.kindermorgan.com) is one of the largest pipeline transportation companies in the United States, and operates in almost every state. Its pipelines transport natural gas, gasoline, crude oil, CO2 and other products.

(c)2011 the Daily Gazette (Sterling, Ill.)
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