Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pipeline Rupture in Florida's Martin County

A pipeline operated by Florida Gas Transmission Co. ruptured on May 4th, forcing 80 Martin County residents from their homes. A nearby high school was closed and Florida's Turnpike and Interstate 95 shut down. In this case, there was no fire, making the investigation easier. The broken pipeline is part of a 5,000-mile system running from south Texas through several states and into the Florida Panhandle. After the repair is made, the pipeline will operate at a reduced pressure while the gas company tries to figure out what caused the rupture. The pipeline was built in 1959 and was last inspected in 2004.

What the general public may not know is this:
Every year, DOZENS of natural gas pipeline accidents are reported to the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
Since 1986, 65 people have died and 259 have been injured by natural gas transmission lines, according to the PHMA. Even more casualties have been caused by accidents involving smaller lines that link to homes and businesses. Deaths: 364. Injuries: 1,556.

This pipeline incident is the ninth pipeline incident in Florida for Florida Gas Transmission since 1998. The causes of the incidents were lightening, corrosion, material failure, excavation damage, and natural force.

This incident raises many questions. Are people sufficiently aware of the serious danger posed by pipelines? Are gas companies going to be given permission to lay pipelines everywhere, including heavily populated residential areas? Will pipelines be inspected appropriately? Is it common knowledge how many people have been killed or injured in pipeline accidents?

Read the whole article here.


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