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Sun Nov 25, 2012, 07:04 PM

Utility worker pierced pipe before Mass. gas blast

Source: AP-Excite

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - A natural gas explosion that injured 18 people and damaged 42 buildings in Springfield's entertainment district was blamed Sunday on a utility worker who accidentally punctured a high-pressure pipeline while looking for a leak.

State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said the Friday night blast in one of New England's largest cities was caused by "human error." He didn't name the Columbia Gas Co. worker who pierced the pipe while responding to reports of a gas leak.

The worker damaged the underground pipe while using a metal probe to locate the source of the leak, Coan said. A flood of gas then built up in a building that housed a strip club, and some kind of spark touched off the blast, officials said.

Coan said the employee was following older markings on a sidewalk that indicated the location of the gas line. He appeared to be an appropriate distance from the line, but the markings were incorrect and the worker accidentally punctured the pipe.

FULL story at link.


Read more: http://apnews.excite.com/article/20121125/DA2P9H802.html




Inspectors stand in debris, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, at the site of a gas explosion that leveled a strip club in Springfield, Mass., on Friday evening. Investigators were trying to figure out what caused the blast where the multistory brick building housing Scores Gentleman's Club once stood. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

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Reply Utility worker pierced pipe before Mass. gas blast (Original post)
Omaha Steve Nov 2012 OP
hedgehog Nov 2012 #1
dipsydoodle Nov 2012 #2
hedgehog Nov 2012 #3
freshwest Nov 2012 #6
dipsydoodle Nov 2012 #15
hedgehog Nov 2012 #17
dipsydoodle Nov 2012 #19
dhpgetsit Nov 2012 #20
SoapBox Nov 2012 #4
muriel_volestrangler Nov 2012 #5
intheflow Nov 2012 #9
intheflow Nov 2012 #8
Warpy Nov 2012 #7
TheMadMonk Nov 2012 #10
intheflow Nov 2012 #12
TheMadMonk Nov 2012 #18
Jim__ Nov 2012 #11
high density Nov 2012 #13
Crowman1979 Nov 2012 #14
aandegoons Nov 2012 #16

Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 07:07 PM

1. So, the pipe wasn't leaking until the worker looking for a leak pierced the pipe?

So why was he looking for a leak?

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 07:14 PM

2. In looking for the leak

he accidently created an even bigger one. Shit happens.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #2)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 07:24 PM

3. I think that when a utility expects its workers to locate an underground pipe base on

the high tech method of checking sidewalk markings, it is rather disingenuous to suggest that the larger leak if the responsibility of the worker.

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #3)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 08:33 PM

6. I suspect he was using an improvised metal detector. With several utilites involved, it's harder.

I was with a crew that punctured a 4-inch gas line in a soon-to-be suburban area. It was not where the blueprint said it was. We made a run for it and called for help. But we lucked out, as our auger didn't set off an explosion. It was an exciting day waiting for the gas company to come and repair the damage, so we could reclaim our line truck. I think this story just explaing the sequence of events, rather than blaming the worker, though.

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #3)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 05:37 AM

15. Maybe I should have said

he accidently contributed to the major leak. I was trying to convey it was just one of those things.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #15)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 08:56 AM

17. I don't mean to go after you or the OP - just the

utility and the media for ignoring the real story here - the failing infrastructure!

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #17)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 09:21 AM

19. We get similar from time to time

here in the UK in the road in which I live. My house is 170 years old so the road is at least that old. I don't know when the gas main was laid. What happens is that is if there is a leak the gas gets into the channel , under the pavement , which was run early nineties, for cable tv etc and also into another underground channel which carries normal phone lines. A few times a year you'll see the inspectors working their way down the road checking for gas outside each of the houses - that's to help pinpoint where the actual leak is.

The main issue in the UK is actually leaks in our water mains due to age - still a lot of Victorian mains in place.

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 09:58 AM

20. I have done exactly that. I know the procedure.

You have to drive a bar into the ground and measure the level of gas in the ground at various places to try to determine the spread of underground gas.. We were supposed to probe no more than 18 inches and I had tape on my tool to mark that depth. Supposedly all the underground gas lines are supposed to be deeper than that, but in fact I hit gas lines on 2 occasions. When you do that, you are supposed to leave the bar in the pipe to hopefully plug the hole and of course get a repair crew on site immediately.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 07:29 PM

4. Just say'n...

"Springfield's entertainment district..."

So is that the new upscale name for nudie bars and lap dance joints?

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Response to SoapBox (Reply #4)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 07:33 PM

5. Plus day care:

The Square One day care next door was heavily damaged.

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/11/downtown_springfield_building.html

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 08:48 PM

9. Second hit in a row for Square One.

They lost their previous location in that tornado that hit Springfield last year.

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Response to SoapBox (Reply #4)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 08:46 PM

8. It's in the same general area as all the bars that host local bands.

I remember when I lived there over a decade ago one of the strip joints also had a loft space that was used as a daytime/weeknight art gallery for local artists just trying to get their non-porn stuff out there. There are a fair number of very reputable restaurants not far from there. So, yes, it's an entertainment district.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 08:45 PM

7. That explains why they cleared the building so fast

and in plenty of time before it exploded. Apparently the workers had repaired to a bar across the street to wait out the evacuation and had had time to order their drinks when it blew up.

All it would have taken is for the building's heat to cycle on.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 10:00 PM

10. No pipe, conduit, or wire should be simply buried in the ground.

 

With modern digging equipment and materials, man accessible utility tunnels for ALL services, along either side of a street make the greatest sense. Particularly in climate constrained locales.

Everything is accessible, assessable and reparible. Contractors have no excuse. Winds, bushfires, snow & ice can't hurt what they can't reach.

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Response to TheMadMonk (Reply #10)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 10:21 PM

12. Where do you live that there is

public space to build utility access tunnels? In older cities - by which I mean most cities established before the automobile - most downtown roads are often so narrow traffic only flows one-way. Above ground is not plausible because any natural disaster of any proportion will blow it away. Underground is not realistic in areas prone to floods or earthquakes or even coal or natural gas reserves. Not to mention the only way this could be paid for would be for the utility companies themselves to all join together to spend the money on the plans, permits, workers and equipment to accomplish this. Like that would ever happen.

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Response to intheflow (Reply #12)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 09:15 AM

18. Beneath ther sidewalk.

 

It would not be that hard to develop a machine which could trench, line, cap and even install the bracketry. Allow for a realistic speed of 500-1000m /day and you could even connect existing properties to the upgraded services as fast as they're laid.

It's one of those <whisper>socialist things Europe does constantly.in even more cramped quarters.

But even if it's not practical to upgrade old infrastructure, it should still be incentivised in new construction.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 10:12 PM

11. "... following older markings on a sidewalk..." Older than what?

Were there newer markings? Was the worker following the prescribed procedures? If so, it's not the worker's error.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #11)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 10:41 PM

13. This possibly means

that Dig Safe had previously marked the area for other work that had been done nearby, but apparently these markings were not made properly. Dig Safe is a system we have in New England where the utilities come out and mark the ground where their infrastructure is located before excavation begins.

http://www.digsafe.com/how_it_works.php

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 01:12 AM

14. Another example of how dangerous fossil fuels are.

Last time I checked, solar panels and wind turbines haven't damaged entire blocks.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 05:51 AM

16. It is not necessarily blaming this worker.

The markings on the sidewalk were likely from an old dig safe or locate. The worker likely can not push the detector through the side walk so I assume they did it in the grassy area and thought he was a safe distance away from the line in order not to damage it.

The error may be in using the old locate markings. I don't know what the process is for emergency locates in Mass. or company policy. In NY you can not use old locates or dig safes.

I am an utility worker and use the dig safe system in NY daily and they can be wrong at times. Like Freshwest I have dug through a gas line several times over the years.

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