New Mars Forums

Official discussion forum of The Mars Society and MarsNews.com

You are not logged in.

Announcement

Announcement: We've recently made changes to our user database and have removed inactive and spam users. If you can not login, please re-register.

#1 2018-09-13 17:46:30

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,235

Natural gas explosions

We have brushed onto the pipelines that supply natural gas / propane across the border but what happens when they are supected of causing an explosion and fire. Now multiply that and you have bing story search link

Dozens of fires and explosions erupt in Massachusetts; State police said the fires broke out across a wide swath in the city of Lawrence and the town of North Andover.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ne … ts-n909446

https://abc7.com/massachusetts-explosio … e/4235966/

https://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2018/ … acuat.html

https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/nat … tts-cities

The three communities house more than 146,000 residents and are located about 26 miles (42 kilometers) north of Boston.
State Police say at least 39 fires erupted Thursday afternoon in the communities of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.
Residents of the towns of Lawrence, North Andover and Andover who have service from Columbia Gas "should evacuate their homes immediately," state police said. Gas lines were being depressurized by the company. The state police some neighborhoods were evacuated because of gas odors.

The state police tweeted that local authorities and state troopers were helping evacuate residents to a senior center and a middle school while detectives and others investigated multiple scenes.“Far too early to speculate on cause,” the state police tweeted, adding that a joint investigation will be conducted when the situations is stabilized..

The power is also being shut off to all of the cities and towns residences and business. They are evacuating the entire area and not allowing people into the area.

Offline

#2 2018-09-14 04:18:50

elderflower
Member
Registered: 2016-06-19
Posts: 1,260

Re: Natural gas explosions

If the gas had been contaminated with acetylene, there might have been highly explosive acetylides forming in the lines and valves.

Offline

#3 2018-09-14 07:39:16

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 3,588

Re: Natural gas explosions

Elderflower,

Is this lack of proper maintenance, a natural process, or a mistake in the quality control used when the gas was initially pumped into the distribution system?

Online

#4 2018-09-14 10:58:36

GW Johnson
Member
From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 4,032
Website

Re: Natural gas explosions

I don’t know the details of design inside a gas meter.  Normally the pressure in a gas main is only several psi,  and in the house-side plumbing,  a couple of psi.  The piping is usually strong enough to withstand considerable excursions in pressure. 

I would think it would be the more delicate metering machinery inside the gas meter,  or in the burner assemblies inside the house,  that would be vulnerable to pressure excursions.  Old corroded piping could fail, or more usually the joints,  especially at elbows.  For low pressure systems,  nobody thrust-blocks turns,  the way you must,  with water or fire mains.

Why such pressure excursions would take place is another matter.  But,  that is what this morning’s news stories seem to indicate:  a problem with overpressures.  My guess is leaks from the meters or burner assembly controls,  which were damaged by overpressure.  Maybe some joint failures at un-thrust-blocked turns in the underground piping.

Just speculating. 

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

Offline

#5 2018-09-15 09:10:28

GW Johnson
Member
From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 4,032
Website

Re: Natural gas explosions

Ran across a news story on the PBS Newshour website that said the gas pipeline system in that part of Massachussets is the oldest in the country,  in some cases over 150 years old. 

Sounds like we are talking about fragile piping corroded paper thin,  and likely already leaking.  Put too much pressure on that,  even gently,  and bust the mains wide open:  massive gas leak. 

Here in Texas in the blackland clay country,  buried steel is corroded almost completely away in 15-20 years.  Cast iron is pretty well gone in 50-100 years.  Not even lead will hold up forever. 

The soil chemistry is different in New England,  but even so,  any kind of metal pipe is bound to be corroded away after 100-150 years.  Sounds like a case of neglected infrastructure,  to me. 

If the scenario I suggest (paper thin pipes already leaking shattered by a pressure event) is right,  they (the gas company) already knew they had a problem with the disparity between the sum of the house meter readings vs the quantity of gas sent into the system.  They (the gas company and the local government) just didn't want to spend the $ to dig up and replace the rotten pipes.

Quite the common moral failing of late,  valuing money over lives.

Still speculation,  until the real truth is finally revealed,  but a high probability scenario to investigate!

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

Offline

#6 2018-09-15 18:29:56

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,235

Re: Natural gas explosions

It appears that over pressure contributed to the disaster. saw one news link earlier....

Gas company linked to explosions in Massachusetts, West Virginia, Ohio

Gas inspections continue days after explosions in Massachusetts

Offline

#7 2018-09-16 17:24:45

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,235

Re: Natural gas explosions

Residents cleared to return home after Massachusetts gas ...
https://www.wxxv25.com/2018/09/16/resid … eturn-home...

Sep 16, 2018 · Thousands of people were allowed to return to their homes in Massachusetts on Sunday after a gas leak that set off dozens of house fires, killing one and injuring 25. On Sunday morning, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and public safety officials gave residents of Andover, North Andover ..

After Massachusetts Gas Explosions, Weary Residents Ask ...
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/14/us/m … explosions...

Sep 14, 2018 · In Massachusetts, where some pipelines are a century old, state lawmakers passed a law in 2016 that required utility companies to fix the most significant gas leaks.

Offline

#8 2018-09-17 19:13:38

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,235

Re: Natural gas explosions

Serveral reports are indicating work that was done in the areas which disabled or bypassed critical sensors for the pressure in the pipelines.
Pressure sensors focus of gas explosions investigation

The investigation into the Boston-area natural gas explosions is partially focused on pressure sensors that were connected to a gas line that was being taken out of service shortly before the blasts, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board said.

Offline

#9 2019-07-29 19:23:31

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,235

Re: Natural gas explosions

On September 13, 2018, excessive pressure in natural gas lines owned by Columbia Gas of Massachusetts caused a series of explosions and fires to occur in as many as 40 homes, with over 80 individual fires, in the Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts towns of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. One person was killed and 30,000 were forced to evacuate their homes.

Deadly gas explosions rocked Massachusetts last September. Now, a $143M settlement

Offline

#10 2019-07-30 07:38:54

tahanson43206
Member
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 3,106

Re: Natural gas explosions

For SpaceNut re #9 ...

This post is not intended to comment upon the explosions and fires in Massachusetts, about which I only know (from the report you provided) only that pressure was high in the lines affected.  However, I can provide a local perspective which may help to explain the difficulty faced by gas company employees.

In the state where I live, there is a massive upgrade of gas line service going on.  The upgrade is (among other things) increasing pressure of the service into the homes from low to medium.  Before the upgrade, the homes in a section of line are fitted with low pressure meters, and afterward, they are fitted with medium pressure meters which have radio transmitters for monthly readings.

What I've been observing over the past couple of years is that the gas company (contractors) have been methodically addressing block sized sections of the network.  This work would require back office knowledge of the location of every pipe before the work starts, and to increase confidence, workers with radio detectors are sent out to confirm what the records say about the location of pipes. 

Again, this is not intended as a comment on what happened in Massachusetts.  It is offered to try to illustrate the difficulty of carrying out such a massive upgrade while maintaining service to customers, except for about an hour during which connections are made, in-house equipment is re-lit and checked, and service is restored at the new, higher pressure.

A single mistake by any of the many workers involved could cascade quickly.   

(th)

Offline

#11 2019-08-03 11:53:16

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,235

Re: Natural gas explosions

The US is not the only place that we have the issue as Mexico gas pipeline leak causes evacuation of 2,000

Offline

Board footer

Powered by FluxBB