Monday, June 13, 2011

This Week in Natural Gas Leaks and Explosions – June 13, 2011

Jun 14th, 2011 | By admin | Category: Lead Articles, Natural Gas Explosions, Natural Gas Leaks

Graphic courtesy of Town of Richmond, Virginia.

Regular readers of know that natural gas leaks caused by contractors normally are not featured in the “This Week in Natural Gas Leaks and Explosions,” because they happen with such disturbing regularity that if every instance were noted there would be no room for anything else. Every once in a while, though, an incident of this nature occurs that is most definitely TWINGLE-worthy, and such is the case this week.

In Duluth, Minnesota, a contractor severed a natural gas line that forced the evacuation of hundreds of people from downtown Duluth for several hours on the afternoon of Thursday, June 9.
According to a story in the Duluth News Tribune, Duluth Assistant Fire Chief Erik Simonson said he was concerned by the manner in which the gas worked its way into the basements and ventilation systems of area buildings.

From the Duluth News Tribune:
“After city water and gas employees came and shut gas off, we had to go through each building and ventilate it and check to make sure gas wasn’t hiding in certain areas,” Simonson said. “Once inside a closed building, the mix of gas and air can become explosive if flame is introduced.”
An explosion leveled a house in Billings, Montana, on the morning of Wednesday, June 8. According to a story in the Montana Standard, a utility company spokesperson initially stated that the explosion was caused by a falling rock that struck the gas meter, but that statement was retracted later in the afternoon. The newspaper account notes that:
“lawns and driveways were littered with twisted pieces of metal, wedges of broken glass and chunks of wood and plastic. There was at least one downed powerline, mangled trees and smoldering debris. Houses all around the neighborhood had doors and windows blown out.”
Billings Mayor Tom Hanel later confirmed to KTVQ-TV that the blast was indeed caused by natural gas.

In Detroit, Michigan, a man was thrown through his front window when his house blew up on Friday, June 10. Authorities said preliminary reports indicate that the natural gas was the cause of the blast. Check out the video here.

A natural gas leak forced the closure of a downtown street to traffic for several hours on the evening of Thursday, June 9, while crews worked to repair the breach, according to a story aired by WRDW-TV.

In Noblesville, Indiana, the a gas leak sent organizers scrambling to relocate the Noblesville Strawberry Festival after a natural gas leak was discovered on the site that had been chosen for the event on Monday, June 6. The leak’s discovery also precipitated the evacuation of approximately 600 people, according to a story in the Indianapolis Star.

From the Star story:
The leak was found when a tent stake was removed Monday from the lawn at Eighth and Logan streets in downtown Noblesville. The stake is believed to have been driven into the gas line when the tent was installed last week. It had been acting as a plug for the gas line until the stake was removed. The tent was used for Noblesville Lions Club’s annual pork chop dinner and pancake breakfast last weekend.
In the town of Horseheads, New York, neighbors have been complaining of the smell of natural gas for days, worrying whether their neighborhood could turn into an inferno at any moment. NYSEG crews did confirm that a small leak was found, according to a story aired on WENY-TV, but assured residents that they had nothing to worry about. The residents remain unconvinced.
From the WENY-TV story:
“The smell has been driving the neighbors crazy. Of course everybody’s worried about it because of all of the older pipes and everything that’s been happening in Horseheads with all the accidents,” said Margaret Mitchell, another Steuben St. neighbor. Carol and Margaret called NYSEG right away, fearing they could have a natural gas leak on their street. NYSEG confirms they did find a small leak on the natural gas main in the street, but say no one is in danger, despite the strange smell. But all the neighbors aren’t convinced. “I worry about it, I especially worry about the neighbors. But what are you going to do, NYSEG is NYSEG, they’re going to do what they’re going to do,” said Mitchell.
The discovery of a natural gas leak in Frisco, Texas, forced the partial closure of a community park last week, according to a story in the Summit Daily News. Workers from XCEL Energy discovered the leak when they were pressure-testing the pipeline.
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