This Week In Natural Gas Leaks and Explosions – June 17, 2013Jun 18th, 2013 | By fjgallagher | Category: Lead Articles, Natural Gas Explosions
It’s been another deadly week around the United States as natural gas explosions continued to exact a heavy toll among customers and industry workers alike.
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A Louisiana facility that processes natural gas liquids exploded violently on Thursday, June 13, sending killing two and injuring dozens of others as employees fled an inferno that sent flames as high as 200 feet into the air, according to media reports describing the incident.
The incident at the plant, which is located in Geismar, Louisiana, and owned and operated by the Williams Cos. – the same company that is proposing to build a high-pressure natural gas line through parks and wetlands in New York City near Coney Island – remains under investigation.
According to a story in NOLA.com, the website of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Williams facility had a history of non-compliance with pipeline safety regulations.
Investigators have not identified the root cause of the massive explosion at a Geismar petrochemical plant … but officials at the Williams Olefins facility confirmed Friday that propylene, the chemical that caught fire, had been identified as leaking from a corroded pipe just six months ago. The plant, which is currently negotiating a settlement agreement with state environmental officials over other violations, had also recently broken ground on a major expansion project.
You can see some original video of the explosion here, shot on iPhone by some casual observers:
A natural gas explosion in Westminster, Colorado, destroyed a home on Thursday, June 13, injuring two and seriously damaging a handful of nearby houses, according to recent media reports describing the incident.
After the blast X-cel Energy, which supplies the area with natural gas, shut off service to the affected neighborhood, and area residents said they smelled natural gas in the vicinity before the explosion occurred.
A truck driver in Leoni Township, Mississippi, suffered severe burns after his rig ruptured a natural gas pipeline that subsequently exploded on Wednesday, June 12, according to recent media reports. The driver remains in critical condition at an area hospital and authorities said the investigation into the incident continues.
A natural gas explosion ripped through a home in Horseheads, New York, on Thursday, June 13, injuring one man. According to recent media reports describing the incident, the blast has become the subject of a criminal investigation.
Local newscasters marvel at the number of natural gas explosions that have destroyed homes and killed people in the area in the past couple of years:
A natural gas explosion ripped the roof off of a school in the Orange County town of Santa Ana, California, on Tuesday, June 11, sending four students to the hospital. According to media reports describing the incident, the blast lifted the roof off of the gymnasium and sent school doors flying up to 75 feet away from the building.
The source of the explosion remains under investigation, according to local authorities, but several students and school employees said the warned administrators about the “stench” of gas in the school’s basement in the days leading up to the incident.
From the Voice of the OC, Orange County’s Non-Profit Investigative News Agency:
As officials investigated whether the explosion was caused by a gas line or water heater, sources told Voice of OC Tuesday that administrators at the school and Santa Ana Unified School District have been warned about a gas stench in the building, including the locker room. “They were aware of that building,” said an employee, who requested anonymity. “There have been many complaints about it.” Another employee, who also requested anonymity, said “the administration was warned multiple times” and complaints from school staff had been taking place for at least several months, probably longer.
San Francisco authorities had to evacuate hundred of people from homes and businesses near Moscone Center at in the South of Market neighborhood on Sunday, June 16, after a construction crew severed an underground gas leak during work on the new Central Subway line currently under construction.
The leak, near the corner of Fourth Street and Folsom Street, was reported shortly after noon but PG&E was not able to shut off gas in the area until nearly 3 p.m., according to media reports describing the incident.
PG&E’s response to natural gas leaks has been controversial after a massive natural gas explosion destroyed an entire neighborhood in San Bruno, California, on Sept. 10, 2010, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes in the small town just south of San Francisco. In the days and weeks after the explosion, PG&E acknowledged that the company’s records pertaining to pipeline location and safety were incomplete and in some cases non-existent.
As always, this round-up of natural gas explosions and leaks is not meant to be comprehensive, merely representative of the incidents that occur with stunning regularity across the country.