Nine people were injured and six buildings heavily damaged in two recent gas explosions in Ohio and New Jersey. In the wake of the Ohio explosion, a federal agency ordered a gas pipeline operator to take a pipeline out of service temporarily to protect local residents.
The Ohio explosion occurred on Nov. 17 in the community of Glouster. Three homes and one barn were destroyed, and a second barn was damaged, according to a report in The Zanesville Times Recorder.
After the explosion, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a corrective action order to Tennessee Gas Pipeline, according to Matt Butler, spokesman for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. The agency ordered the company to reduce the pipeline operating pressure to 80 percent of its former maximum and obtain approval from PHMSA before returning the line to service, according to the Times Recorder report.
The cause of the pipeline failure has not been determined, the newspaper reported. Tennessee Gas Pipeline was excavating the failed portion of piping and planned to have the pipe material tested.
"Based on evidence and extensive interviews, it appears the explosion was the result of the ignition of natural gas following a physical failure on the pipeline," a news release from the Ohio State Fire Marshal's Office stated. "Investigators can not determine the exact source of ignition, but believe a spark from debris, static electricity or nearby power transformers likely ignited the natural gas," the release stated.
In New Jersey, eight firefighters and an emergency medical technician were injured in a basement explosion during an early-morning house fire in Pennsauken on Nov. 21, according to a report in the Courier Post.
Pennsauken Fire Chief Joseph Palumbo said the fire in the basement involved a release of natural gas from the regular service gas line. "As they (firemen) were stretching a hose line into the dwelling, a gas explosion occurred, causing significant interior and structural damage to the home," he said. At the time of the explosion, seven of those injured were inside the home and a battalion chief was on the porch, he said.
A spokeswoman from Public Service Electric & Gas Co. said Monday there was no gas leak at that address. "We checked our gas line and there was no leak, but the gas meter melted as a result of the fire," said PSE&G spokeswoman Karen Johnson.