Pipeline Explosion Common Causes
Although the natural gas industry is heavily regulated, pipeline explosions still occur. Many of these explosions can be traced to human error in one way or another. The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) extensively regulates pipeline safety throughout the United States.
Although there may be a myriad of ways that a pipeline explosion can occur, most such explosions occur as a result of a few common causes. A good attorney can help you obtain compensation for any injuries you may have suffered as a result of such an explosion.
Pipelines must be properly installed by skilled technicians in order to work properly. Improper installation, including poor welding, can result in gas leaks and other problems that lead to an explosion. Failure to install emergency shut-off valves is another problem that can turn an unfortunate incident into an outright disaster.
Excavation work can damage pipelines and safety equipment, leading to dangerous gas leaks and other problems. In particular, punctures and dents can lead to dangerous gas leaks. Excavation damage might not be the fault of the gas company – it might be the fault of a construction contractor who failed to properly identify the location of pipelines (as required by regulations) before beginning excavation.
Defective Safety Equipment
In addition to improper installation, defects in safety equipment itself can cause a pipeline explosion, even if the equipment was properly installed. Equipment defects may allow you to file a product liability against anyone in the chain of distribution of the defective equipment, from manufacturer to retain distributor.
Lapses in Maintenance
Gas lines, meter, joints, service lines and gas mains are all subject to aging, and they need repair/replacement from time to time. In many cases the roots of a pipeline explosion can be traced to catastrophic lapses in maintenance, either because of negligence or because of willful failure to adhere to a regular maintenance schedule.
Failure to Respond
A dangerous situation can become deadly when responsible personnel fail to timely respond to a consumer complaint of a gas leak. In some cases, however, a consumer may not even recognize a gas leak. Since natural gas is odorless and colorless, regulations require that an odorant be added to the gas, giving it a sulfurous, rotten-egg smell that can easily be recognized.
Failure to add the odorant, or absorption of the odorant by new piping, can prevent a consumer from reporting a gas leak until an explosion has already occurred.
Failure to Properly Train
Compliance with OHSA standards can be quite a complex matter. Safety regulations could be characterized as byzantine even for someone who possesses technical knowledge in the field. Compliance with OHSA and company safety standards becomes nearly impossible if the employees charged with protecting pipeline safety are not properly trained.
Company employees need to be trained not only to install and maintain safety equipment, but also to coordinate with local emergency response teams in case a dangerous situation develops.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a pipeline explosion, it might be more than just an accident and an investigation might reveal that you have a claim against the gas company or a third party. Since pipeline explosions are complicated both factually and legally, you will need the assistance of an attorney that specializes in these kinds of claims.
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