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October 5th, 2016:

How Often Do Natural Gas Explosions Occur?

American Energy Coalition - October 5th, 2016

In light of yesterday’s reported natural gas explosion in Patterson, NJ, that destroyed two homes and damaged 13 others, the Christian Science Monitor published a report exploring recent large explosions and fires involving natural gas lines.

“One factor has received increasing attention over the past decade: the role of aging pipelines, especially in the Northeast where pipe infrastructure can be more than 100 years old,” The Monitor reported.

“When it [natural gas] is in a confined space such as a basement or manhole and fills up to a level of 4 percent, all you need is a spark [for it to explode,]” Nathan Phillips, professor at Boston University told The Monitor. “A leak-prone pipe is largely made up of cast iron … these are issues that we have with the infrastructure across aging cities.”

Natural gas leaks and accidents are not uncommon, the article states.
• In August, a gas leak in Silver Spring, Md., killed seven and destroyed a four-floor apartment.
• In April, a gas transmission line exploded next to a man’s house in Pennsylvania.

“Winter might see more such incidents,” the article states, citing information from Popular Mechanics. “Leaks are more prone to be pushed into homes and buildings as frost covers the soil outdoors.”

“Professor Phillips, together with a group of scientists, conducted a study in September 2015 that found 3,400 natural-gas pipeline leaks across Boston and 5,900 leaks in Washington, D.C.,” the article states. “Many of the cast-iron pipes were installed in the 1800s, according to Robert Jackson, one of the study’s authors.”

After a deadly 2010 gas explosion in San Bruno, Calif., the Department of Transportation and the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration called for an acceleration of repair, rehabilitation, and replacement of high-risk pipeline infrastructure in 2011. Since then, many utility companies have started pipeline replacement programs, although consumers may sometimes have to wait for years and may face higher bills to fund the process, the article states.

To read the Christian Science Monitor article, click here.

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