The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 28, 2013

Sissonville woman describes pipeline inferno to federal panel

Hearing being held today in Charleston at Rockefeller's request

By LAWRENCE MESSINA
Associated Press Writer

CHARLESTON — A West Virginia woman feared the world was ending as she watched a Sissonville gas explosion destroy her neighborhood.

Sue Bonham was the first witness at a Monday field hearing held by Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller.

The West Virginia Democrat organized it after the Dec. 11 blast torched homes and damaged Interstate 77.

Bonham said a phone call kept her indoors just as the pipeline exploded. She’s certain she otherwise would have died. Bonham described a deafening roar followed by walls of fire and suffocating heat.

Monday’s hearing also features National Transportation Safety Board chair Deborah Hersman.

Before the hearing, Rockefeller criticized the U.S. Office of Management of Budget for slowing down potential safety rules meant to respond to the Sissonville explosion and similar accidents.

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Online: http://commerce.senate.gov/public/