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  #1  
Old 14 September 2018, 03:40 AM
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Flame Work on gas lines causes many houses in Massachusetts to catch fire

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/13/u...gtype=Homepage


Apparently over 50 homes and businesses have caught fire. Many neighborhoods have been evacuated.
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  #2  
Old 14 September 2018, 03:57 AM
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I saw some of that on the news tonight. The place looked like a war zone. I hope people are able to get out safely.
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  #3  
Old 14 September 2018, 03:28 PM
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"Catch fire" is not how this was described in my local paper this morning. They said explosions and blasts.

Seaboe
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  #4  
Old 14 September 2018, 04:32 PM
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I'm still trying to understand the mechanism by which these explosions happened. I've heard "overpressurized gas lines" cited as a possible culprit, but I can't figure out how that would lead to multiple catastrophic explosive failures - is it that single houses on each branch line are going up, or that weaker connections/fixtures on certain houses are giving out, or...??? As someone who uses natural gas service, this is a terrifying scenario that I never would have imagined possible.
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  #5  
Old 14 September 2018, 05:56 PM
Kermor Kermor is offline
 
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Reminds me of the 1992 Guadalajara disaster :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992_G...ara_explosions
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  #6  
Old 14 September 2018, 07:10 PM
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It sounds similar to this, perhaps. http://www.gendisasters.com/missouri...sions-jan-1982

A past incident where a damaged pressure valve allowed high pressure gas to be sent into low-pressure residential lines.

I would have thought that there would be some kind of fail safe system that at least would prevent it from going as far as it did. A mechanical vent that is tripped by high pressure, that shuts down the flow of gas, or rerouts it? Maybe it was shut down quickly, but houses were already on fire? I haven't seen a lot of details yet, but 3 towns and up to 80 houses sounds like it traveled a ways.
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Old 14 September 2018, 07:37 PM
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That does sound like a similar scenario, erwins. I wonder if that's what it will turn out to be. Yikes.
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  #8  
Old 14 September 2018, 07:53 PM
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The NTSB launched to the area this morning.





~Psihala
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  #9  
Old 14 September 2018, 08:48 PM
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I haven't looked -- wondering if you know already: do they have jurisdiction over this inherently, or have they been asked in because of their investigatory expertise? I guess gas lines do transport gas...
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  #10  
Old 14 September 2018, 08:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwins View Post
I haven't looked -- wondering if you know already: do they have jurisdiction over this inherently
Yes. Pipelines are considered "transportation" as they transport gas or oil, and are part of the NTSB's jurisdiction.

ETA: At least on some older NTSB reports, the cover page includes illustrations of a plane, a train, a ship, a pipeline, and a truck, illustrating the different categories of accidents that they investigate. See this one (PDF) as an example.

Last edited by WildaBeast; 14 September 2018 at 09:02 PM.
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  #11  
Old 14 September 2018, 09:05 PM
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That makes sense.

I read the engineering disasters discussion over at an engineering board (eng-tips.com, I think boku linked a discussion over there a while back) and it sounds like there are pressure relief valve on the low pressure side, but there are reasons that they might not have stopped this. Work on the pipe could cause a blockage, or the complete failure of the pressure regulator could be more than the valve is designed to vent. I hope this is something that can result in safety improvements, because it is pretty unsettling to know something like this can happen.
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  #12  
Old 14 September 2018, 09:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
Yes. Pipelines are considered "transportation" as they transport gas or oil, and are part of the NTSB's jurisdiction.
Yes. It's part of their Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigations.

~Psihala
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  #13  
Old 14 September 2018, 09:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwins View Post
I read the engineering disasters discussion over at an engineering board (eng-tips.com, I think boku linked a discussion over there a while back) and it sounds like there are pressure relief valve on the low pressure side, but there are reasons that they might not have stopped this. Work on the pipe could cause a blockage, or the complete failure of the pressure regulator could be more than the valve is designed to vent.
Other possibilities may include a failure to do maintenance on those relief valves, or improperly overriding the reliefs ("gagging" them) to isolate the valves for maintenance. Failing to restore relief valves to a working condition after isolating part of a system for maintenenace happens "all the time" (by which I mean it happens often enough that itís one of the first things I'd look for).
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  #14  
Old 14 September 2018, 10:40 PM
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Interesting (and concerning). Thanks.
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  #15  
Old 15 September 2018, 08:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musicgeek View Post
I'm still trying to understand the mechanism by which these explosions happened. I've heard "overpressurized gas lines" cited as a possible culprit, but I can't figure out how that would lead to multiple catastrophic explosive failures - is it that single houses on each branch line are going up, or that weaker connections/fixtures on certain houses are giving out, or...???
IIRC, when something like this happened in northeastern Ohio a few years ago, there were leaks from pipes that failed due to the pressure, but there were also appliances with pilot lights that suddenly had a huge blowtorch where they could only contain a small flame.

Last edited by lord_feldon; 15 September 2018 at 08:45 AM.
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