Oil and Gas Fires Explosions

A series of gas explosions occurred on the East Coast in recent months, and some resulted in severe injuries and property damages. Gas leaks are relatively common, but they should be handled with caution even though most do not result in explosions. A gas leak smells like sulfur, some describe it as “rotten eggs”. According to New Jersey Natural Gas spokesman, Michael Kinney, in the event that you detect a gas leak, “Do not light a candle, do not turn on the lights, do not turn on your cell phone, leave the premise immediately, go to a safe location and make that call.” One should call 911 or contact the gas company to report a gas leak.

Recent gas explosion incidents:

  1. On February 24, 2015, 15 people were injured as a result of a gas explosion in Stafford Township, New Jersey. The investigation concluded that the blast was caused by a 2-inch natural gas distribution main that leaked in the street.[1]
  1. On March 02, 2015, a gas explosion occurred in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. One resident was injured, and the natural gas company claimed that the cause was not a result of the company’s infrastructure after conducting leak surveys and pressure tests. The company concluded that issue was with the equipment inside the home.[2]
  1. On March 22, 2015, a gas explosion damaged more than 9 homes in Upper Arlington, Ohio. The cause of this explosion is still under investigation by building codes experts and fire cause and origin experts. Fortunately, no one was injured during this incident.[3]
  1. On March 26, 2015, a major gas explosion occurred in Lower Manhattan, New York. At least 25 people are hurt, and 2 are missing. The explosion caused the building to collapse and started building fires in the surrounding structures. Plumbing contractors are being probed for possibly rupturing a gas main by accident. This incident is still under investigation.[4]

There are many reasons why it is important to identify the cause of an explosion. The first reason is to determine liability so that victims of the explosion can be fairly compensated for the damages. Victims of explosions might suffer from trauma, long-term disability, and property damages, and economic loss. Second, the more important reason is to identify the errors, improve safety, and prevent future accidents. The existing safety regulations are in place as a result of prior explosions and accidents; the ultimate goal of updating safety codes in the natural gas industry is to prevent fatalities and critical injuries. 

ForensisGroup provides gas explosion expert witnesses for litigation and consulting. Through our services, we strive to improve safety by providing the best experts to assist with accident investigation and safety codes and compliance.

 

By: Susan Kwo, MBA

 

Sources:

[1] http://www.nj.com/ocean/index.ssf/2015/02/gas_leak_in_street_caused_stafford_gas_explosion_that_injured_15_officials_say.html   

[2] http://www.nj.com/ocean/index.ssf/2015/03/firefighter_describes_fireball_at_nj_gas_explosion.html

[3] http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2015/03/27/1-gas-explosion-holds-lessons.html

[4] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/27/nyregion/reports-of-explosion-in-east-village.html?_r=0