Mexico pipeline passes safety test, will reopen weeks after fire

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MEXICO - The Audrain County pipeline where a fire raged last month will soon be back in operation.

"All tests confirming the integrity of the pipeline are now complete and the line will be prepared to return to service," Energy Transfer said in a news release on Monday afternoon.

A series of tests sent high-pressure water through the Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line looking for abnormalities. The hydrotests came back clear, Energy Transfer said.

Vicki Granado, Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line spokesperson, broke down what the tests does.

"The hydrotest, hydro meaning water. And so what you do is run water through the pipeline at a pressure that exceeds what the pipeline would normally operate at. And that tests the strength of it," Granado said.

The natural gas pipeline caught fire last month, burning so hot it "cooked" the oil out of a nearby stretch of Highway 15. The road had to be closed for repairs.

Erik Phillips, a Mexico resident, says the community wants to know what started the explosion.

"I'm just kind of confused. What caused the actual explosion? And why it's not working properly? That seems like kind of a problem cause I mean there's pipelines all over the place. Ya know if this one can explode what keeps any of the others from exploding," Phillips said.

Grandado said the cause of the explosion has not been announced and is being investigated by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. 

Energy Transfer did not say when the pipeline would be open again, and said any updates on timing would be announced via news releases.

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