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Thread: Officials: Worker Punctured Gas Line, Causing Strip Club Explosion

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    Conservative Meanie ifinditunderground's Avatar
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    Default Officials: Worker Punctured Gas Line, Causing Strip Club Explosion

    SPRINGFIELD (CBS) — Authorities in western Massachusetts announced on Saturday that human error was to blame for a blast that leveled a strip club, damaged 42 buildings, and injured 21 people in Springfield’s entertainment district.

    State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said a gas company worker responding to reports of a gas leak punctured a pipe that eventually led to a massive explosion.

    “We have determined that human error as opposed to a fault in the gas infrastructure is what the cause of the explosion was,” a statement from the State Fire Marshal’s office said.

    Officials said on Sunday that a Columbia Gas employee arrived Friday evening to investigate the report for an odor of gas. It is unclear what prompted that initial call.

    Upon arrival, the gas company employee reported smelling gas, but his meter did not register any gas inside the building.

    He began using a metal probe to make holes in the ground in order to measure for leaking gas.

    “His examination appears to have been an appropriate distance from where older markings on the sidewalk indicated where the gas line was. However, the markings were incorrect and his metal probe inadvertently punctured the high-pressure gas line right at the foundation of the building,” a statement from the State Fire Marshal’s office said.



    Firefighters display the pipe that was punctured by a gas worker.

    It took crews 20 to 30 minutes to shut off the line. During that time, the area was evacuated.

    A large amount of natural gas seeped into the building that eventually exploded. Officials say there were a number of possible ignition sources inside the building, and that they likely will not be able to pinpoint which one actually sparked the explosion.

    However, they stress that the ignition source matters much less to the investigation than the source of the fuel.

    Authorities on Sunday did not name the worker who caused the blast.

    Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said Columbia Gas has been extremely cooperative in the investigation.

    Columbia Gas planned a news conference for 4 p.m. to respond to the developments.

    Examination of the scene was expected to wrap up Sunday. From there, the investigation will be turned over to the Department of Public Utilities.

    Friday’s afternoon’s explosion flattened a strip club and heavily damaged a day care center shortly after the surrounding area had been evacuated.

    Most of the injured were part of a group of gas workers, firefighters and police officers who ducked for cover behind a utility truck just before the blast.

    The explosion blew out windows and scattered debris over several blocks.

    Another mismark wreaking havoc. Discuss.....
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    Conservative Meanie ifinditunderground's Avatar
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    Default Re: Officials: Worker Punctured Gas Line, Causing Strip Club Explosion

    A different news report:

    Coan said the employee was following older markings on a sidewalk that indicated the location of the gas line. He appeared to be an appropriate distance from the line, but the markings were incorrect and the worker accidentally punctured the pipe.

    Columbia's president said the employee followed the correct procedures.

    "You drive the hole to determine if there is any gas outside," Steve Bryant said. "He stepped over two feet and it turned out to be exactly the amount that the service was offset from the valve, which is a very unusual circumstance."
    There is a fine line between "Hobby" and "Mental Illness."
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    Senior Member daman1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Officials: Worker Punctured Gas Line, Causing Strip Club Explosion

    Well if they were working off older marks then the locator is off the hook legally isn't he? Doesn't really matter much though. I'd still hate to be the guy with that on my conscience.
    Sometimes I think there should be a whole different set of rules governing gas lines. They are so much more lethal. Gas companies AND locators need better and more specific procedures with more attention paid to accuracy than to time constraints or I'm afraid these issues are going to continue to get worse. Gas company prints can be totally outdated, unreadable, or just plain deceptive. Lines become unlocateable and not enough attention is paid to repairing them. Locators are forced to beat dead lines to mark them out who aren't always trained or experienced enough to take into account the condition of the the infrastructure, records, or other issues that can contribute to a mis-mark. Sometimes, especially if you know you are looking for an HP main, YOU HAVE TO SLOW DOWN and double check your marks. You have to be experienced enough to sense when your equipment may not be correct and try something else just to confirm your marks and ease your own conscience. If you're still not positive then extra steps need to be taken. Right now, reporting one unlocateable line will demand a set of procedures be followed that will ruin your schedule for days. If you're sitting on 40+ four way tickets, no one in your chain of command will encourage this extra time being consumed and they will see you as a poor producer. Certainly not making the company enough profit. I never liked the company getting paid by volume for locates but with natural gas it's just crazy.

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    Senior Member daman1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Officials: Worker Punctured Gas Line, Causing Strip Club Explosion

    And I sure wish my mamma would have picked a day care next to a strip club. "Dear Santa, I've been a good boy and I would REEEEAAALLLY like a nice pair of binoculars for Christmas".

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    Default Re: Officials: Worker Punctured Gas Line, Causing Strip Club Explosion

    Quote Originally Posted by daman1 View Post
    Well if they were working off older marks then the locator is off the hook legally isn't he? Doesn't really matter much though. I'd still hate to be the guy with that on my conscience.
    Sometimes I think there should be a whole different set of rules governing gas lines. They are so much more lethal. Gas companies AND locators need better and more specific procedures with more attention paid to accuracy than to time constraints or I'm afraid these issues are going to continue to get worse. Gas company prints can be totally outdated, unreadable, or just plain deceptive. Lines become unlocateable and not enough attention is paid to repairing them. Locators are forced to beat dead lines to mark them out who aren't always trained or experienced enough to take into account the condition of the the infrastructure, records, or other issues that can contribute to a mis-mark. Sometimes, especially if you know you are looking for an HP main, YOU HAVE TO SLOW DOWN and double check your marks. You have to be experienced enough to sense when your equipment may not be correct and try something else just to confirm your marks and ease your own conscience. If you're still not positive then extra steps need to be taken. Right now, reporting one unlocateable line will demand a set of procedures be followed that will ruin your schedule for days. If you're sitting on 40+ four way tickets, no one in your chain of command will encourage this extra time being consumed and they will see you as a poor producer. Certainly not making the company enough profit. I never liked the company getting paid by volume for locates but with natural gas it's just crazy.



    Where I'm at we get fourth and third notices until the gas company will even bother to come out. Seems like they would rather repair a damage service or main instead of fixing the unlocateable line.

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    Administrator TheCableVine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Officials: Worker Punctured Gas Line, Causing Strip Club Explosion

    If he punched a hole in it with a probe it was obviously a plastic line. I wonder how far away from the gas line the locate wire was.
    "Change does not always equal progress."

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    Default Re: Officials: Worker Punctured Gas Line, Causing Strip Club Explosion

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCableVine View Post
    If he punched a hole in it with a probe it was obviously a plastic line. I wonder how far away from the gas line the locate wire was.
    Very good point. I've always wondered why the tracer wire isn't embedded in the plastic like it is in some overhead phone cables.

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    Default Re: Officials: Worker Punctured Gas Line, Causing Strip Club Explosion

    Quote Originally Posted by union_YES View Post
    Where I'm at we get fourth and third notices until the gas company will even bother to come out. Seems like they would rather repair a damage service or main instead of fixing the unlocateable line.
    If this was on a high pressured main and service and there were several gas personnel present why did none of them locate or call in an emergency to get it located instead of relying on old marks?
    Last edited by TheCableVine; November 27th, 2012 at 11:31 PM.

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Officials: Worker Punctured Gas Line, Causing Strip Club Explosion

    because they wern't locators.

    Plain and simple. People outside the locating or construction industry actually think that all paint on the ground is gospel and the utility is directly below said paint. The truth is alot different.

    These gas guys go out to the field and look at old paint, they automatically think that the paint is good. Why would the employ or contract locators that can't locate this line?

    I'm curious on what kinda probe he was using to puncture a gas line.

    mke

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    Default Re: Officials: Worker Punctured Gas Line, Causing Strip Club Explosion

    Does Columbia Gas do their own locating in Springfiled or is it contracted out?

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    Default Re: Officials: Worker Punctured Gas Line, Causing Strip Club Explosion

    Quote Originally Posted by Locator4life View Post
    Does Columbia Gas do their own locating in Springfiled or is it contracted out?
    Now that you mention it, I believe CG does do their own locates in Mass. That would explain why they went with old marks.

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    Default Re: Officials: Worker Punctured Gas Line, Causing Strip Club Explosion

    Around here the gas company uses something like this to punch a hole and then they put the cgi into the hole to check for gas http://www.dultmeier.com/prod-info.a...de-Adapter.jpg I was wondering how there could be any marks left I saw the crater the blast left and he was checking along the foundation.

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Officials: Worker Punctured Gas Line, Causing Strip Club Explosion

    man alive. I have trouble just getting mine by rocks. Maybe he was distracted by the strip club?

    Mke

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    Administrator TheCableVine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Officials: Worker Punctured Gas Line, Causing Strip Club Explosion

    Quote Originally Posted by daman1 View Post
    Very good point. I've always wondered why the tracer wire isn't embedded in the plastic like it is in some overhead phone cables.
    I thought it should be myself so I asked a gas tech why it wasn't and he clued me in. If lightning were to hit a trace wire where it is exposed by the meter or in a test post etc... the gas line would have a very long hole in it. That is the reason why they lay it in the trench. The wire shouldn't come in contact with the plastic line. I've also had to disconnect the trace wire from a couple of house grounds. Some homeowners think it is a ground wire and they use it as such. If there were a problem and the wire got hot, well, you know the rest.
    "Change does not always equal progress."

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    Senior Member Bad Robot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Officials: Worker Punctured Gas Line, Causing Strip Club Explosion

    Quote Originally Posted by Mke View Post
    because they wern't locators.
    Bingo.

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