Texas Natural Gas Pipeline Explosion Kills OneJun 8, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP
A natural gas pipeline exploded in rural Texas yesterday, killing one utility worker. The blast ignited a fire that was visible from miles away.
The explosion occurred on a ranch in Cleburne, Johnson County, south of Fort Worth, around 3:00 p.m. local time. It involved a large transmission line that carries natural gas long distances. A witness told The Wall Street Journal that the blast shook his house, and that the heat from the ensuing fire was intense. The fire was extinguished around 4:45 p.m.
According to the Associated Press, the blast occurred when workers for a subcontractor hired by Waco-based Brazos Electric Cooperative were digging to replace power-line poles when they hit the pipeline. Investigators from several agencies, including Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are investigating the incident. Among other things, investigators are trying to determine if the gas line had been marked before digging started.
The body of the worker killed in the explosion was discovered last night. According to the Associated Press, the man, whose name has not been released, had been riding in a truck being used to drill holes for utility poles when the line suddenly exploded, and other workers lost sight of him.
According to The Wall Street Journal, eight workers were transported to area hospitals. The Associated Press is reporting that some of the injured were taken to Glen Rose Medical Center, where two were treated and released, and four were listed in stable condition. Another person was transported to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, but there is no word on that individual’s condition.
According to the Journal, Johnson County is in an area of Texas that has experienced a boom in natural gas drilling in recent years. While the industry has expanded rapidly in Texas and other states recently, many are beginning to raise concerns about the dangers of natural gas drilling.
Yesterday’s incident in Texas was the third gas-related explosion in the U.S. within four days, the Journal said. One incident, a well blow out in Pennsylvania on June 3, caused state officials to call a temporary halt to drilling by EOG Resources Inc. The second occurred at a well in West Virginia on Sunday night, injuring seven workers.
Natural gas drilling has been linked to water contamination in Louisiana and Pennsylvania, and in Cleburne, a series of small earthquakes was even tied to the drilling.
Nationwide there were 47 pipeline incidents last year that caused a death or serious injury, up from 40 in 2008 and 45 in 2007, the Journal said. Most of those involved the distribution lines that take natural gas to homes, but six involved larger transmission lines like the one that blew up in Cleburne.