Four major natural gas explosions in the last few months are raising concerns about safety. The deadly blasts hit gas infrastructure at every level including a drilling well, a processing facility, a pipeline and even an apartment complex.
As revealed by a March 12 explosion in East Harlem, gas can be deadly. Given that research shows gas pipelines are leaking all across the country, it is a virtual certainty that we will see other tragedies like this in the not too distant future.
An explosion at an LNG facility near the Columbia River at Plymouth, Washington on March 31, further illustrates the dangers. The blast injured four workers and led to the evacuation of about 200 people from nearby homes. The explosion also punctured a liquefied natural gas storage tank causing it to leak. Luckily it did not cause a secondary blast.
On January 25, there was a massive explosion and fire at a natural gas pipeline in the Canadian province of Manitoba leaving thousands without heating.
On February 11, the town of Dunkard, PA was rocked by an explosion at a Chevron Appalachia natural gas drilling site and the fire it ignited burned for days. The blast injured one worker and killed another, it also forced the evacuation of 400 residents and agricultural workers within a two-mile radius of the facility.
These events provide ammunition to those opposing the liquefied natural gas terminals near Astoria and Coos Bay. Many have pointed to the dangers of locating export terminals in earthquake and tsunami zones. To further complicate matters, marine terminals increase the risk of a spill onto water, which could make the vapor dispersion even wider.
In addition to being the catalyst in a number of lethal explosions, natural
gas is one of the largest industrial sources of CH4 emissions in the
U.S. Methane is the primary component of natural gas and a potent
greenhouse gas. In terms of its emissions profile, at least one
assessment suggests that natural gas may be worse than coal.
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