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A natural gas pipeline explosion and subsequent fire significantly altered the pipeline steel microstructure, obscuring in part the primary cause of failure, namely, coating breakdown at a local hard spot in the steel. Chemical analysis was made on pieces cut from the portion of the pipe that did not fracture during the explosion and from piece 5-1 which contained the fracture origin site. Both pieces were found to have 0.30% carbon and 1.2% Mn with sulfur and phosphorus impurities acceptably low. Fracture mechanics analysis used in conjunction with fractographic results confirmed the existence of a very hard spot in...

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