This Week In Natural Gas Leaks and Explosions – July 22, 2013Jul 22nd, 2013 | By fjgallagher | Category: Lead Articles, Natural Gas Explosions
Natural gas leaks and explosions continued to wreak havoc in communities across the country this week, often at extraordinary costs. What follows is a by-no-means comprehensive round-up of the destruction – and if your community was lucky enough to escape unscathed this week, remember, if natural gas flows through pipelines where you live, it’s really only a matter of time until your town shows up as an item in This Week In Natural Gas Leaks and Explosions.
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After a contractor triggered a natural gas explosion Broomfield, Colorado, that shut down a portion of US Route 36 for several hours on Tuesday, June 16, a spokesperson for the natural gas company that provides service in the area acknowledged the utility is on pace for a record number of natural gas explosions this year, according to recent media reports.
Mark Stutz, a spokesperson for Xcel Energy, told 9news.com, the NBC affiliate in the Denver market, that the company has seen a spike in natural gas incidents this summer and blamed the increase on ill-informed construction crews.
According to the 9news.com story, there have been 10 natural gas explosions or significant leaks in the area in the last 10 months, and only three of them have been attributed to contractor activity. From the 9news.com story:
- Flames shot from a gas pipe in Greenwood Village for more than one hour when crews hit a line on June 5.
- A gas leak in Aurora on May 29 created a visible gas cloud.
- A house exploded on March 19 in Grand Junction injuring three people and forcing evacuations.
- A gas leak at an apartment building triggered an explosion on March 18 that injured six people, one with critical burns.
- Four families were displaced in Arvada on March 3 when a contractor hit a gas line, disrupting heat and electricity.
- A natural gas leak is thought to have caused two explosions in an elderly woman’s house in Boulder on February 10.
- On January 10 in Littleton, crews severed a high pressure gas line sending a large gas plume into the air and forcing evacuations off C-470 near Santa Fe.
- And on October 12, 2012 in Castle Rock, a gas explosion leveled a house and severely damaged several others, injuring five people including four children and forcing four families from their homes.
A vacant home exploded in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on July 18, 2013, forcing the evacuation of area residents from several nearby residences, according to recent media accounts. No one was injured in the blast, which remains under investigation.
According to a story in the Kenosha News, the vacant home – reportedly under foreclosure when the natural gas explosion occurred, declared a total loss with damages from the blast exceeding $70,000.
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A gas explosion at an energy plant that powered by gas collected from a nearby landfill in Johnston, Rhode Island, on Tuesday severely damaged the facility, drawing criticism from the state’s governor amid ongoing questions about the safety of the plant’s operation, according to recent media reports describing the incident.
The plant, owned and operated by Broadrock Renewables LLC, collected gases from the town’s Central Landfill and, in turn, used them to generate electricity. Methane, aka natural gas, is the primary gas generated by the decomposition of material buried in a landfill.
From a story in the Johnston Sunrise:
The mayor ordered the main plant at Broadrock closed last week after Building Official Ben Nascenzi reported that the company had not complied with prior requests to remedy safety and building code violations at the site.
“This place looks like Beirut, it looks like a bomb went off,” he said upon touring the site. “It’s a makeshift operation to try to recapture the gases from the landfill and feed it into the generator system so they can produce electricity. … Valves that control the gases being piped in from the landfill were in the open position after the explosion. Steel couplings blew off the pipes and the pipes blew apart, sending flames and gases into the facility.”
A natural-gas fueled fire in Oologah, Oklahoma, forced dozens of area residents to flee their homes on Tuesday, July 16, according to recent media reports describing the incident.
A nearby lightning strike apparently sent power lines tumbling on to a natural gas meter, which triggered an explosion and ignited a blaze that sent flames shooting as high as 10 feet into the air.
Finally, the natural gas explosion in Corpus Christi, Texas, and highlighted in last week’s edition of This Week In Natural Gas Leaks and Explosions, claimed its first victim when a man critically injured in the blast died on July 17 in the burn unit of a San Antonio hospital, according to recent media reports.
In addition to the one death, the extraordinarily violent natural gas explosion severely injured one other man, flattened on home and significantly damaged dozens of others. It also scared the bejesus out of some local newscasters who happened to be on the air at the time, broadcasting from a studio located not far from where the natural gas explosion occurred. Video below: