Preventing Natural Gas Hazards
Common but dangerous practices that release natural gas near industrial and commercial work areas can lead to tragic consequences. Two explosions, in North Carolina and Connecticut, killed a total of 10 workers and injured more than 100 others.
In one case workers were conducting a “gas blow,” a procedure that forced natural gas at high volume and pressure through newly-installed piping to remove debris. In the other case, workers were purging a pipe feeding gas to an industrial heater and gas was allowed to flow through the pipe and exit into a room where it accumulated and eventually found an ignition source.
Both cases point to the hazards of releasing gas into areas where it can accumulate, ignite, and kill or injure workers or the public. Both cases were preventable. After investigations by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, the CSB concluded that “the use of flammable natural gas in gas blows is inherently unsafe and alternate methods should be used.”