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Re: [cdn-nucl-l] " Gas-main rupture "
Indeed, there have been, and will continue to be, gas related
deaths. Horrible. But I was talking about 'relative worry' compared to
other risks in the home, not absolute risks in a particular
technology. Nevertheless, your points are well taken.
However, the number of deaths related to the use of alternate technology A
is one factor in the decision about which technology to use. We need to
look at the number of deaths related to the use of technology B , C, D, E,
... to perform the same function. How many deaths are related to
electricity? How many lives have been saved through the use of gas or
electrical technologies? If we go for electric over gas, how would we fare
in an ice storm (given that only a minority would have backup generators
and even if a majority did have backup generators, you have to wonder how
many accidents would occur when uninformed people use unfamiliar machines,
But I think you and I are on the same wavelength. The gas industry could
use better oversight. Ditto for many other technologies. I like your
bottom line comment:
"Bottom line - all large scale energy systems are potentially hazardous and
need good design engineering, sufficient rules and operators with a safety
culture. Unfortunately, it often seems to me that the "cost be damned"
approach that is applied to nuclear power is generally not equitably
applied to other power sources, which leaves risk that is not adequately
addressed or understood."
I really would like to see all energy supply options be equitably
treated. Nuclear would fare really well in that contest and would likely
beat out all other options, even solar, wind and hydro, in deaths per MW or
kW-hr if a full life cycle analysis was done.
At any rate, none of the current energy supply sources contribute much to
my personal risk. My personal biggest risk is driving to work (not
counting my usual litany of stupid acts around the house and garage,
cleaning gutters and fixing brakes). Be nice to your mechanic.
At 07:07 PM 05/06/2006, Rod Adams wrote:
>I would agree with you except for the fact that the standards for gas
>pipeline inspections are not very high. In fact, I would venture to say
>that there are no standards requiring continuing inspection for home
>piping after it is installed. Over time, there are several different ways
>that piping can be damaged or corroded in ways that can cause leaks and
>hazards. That is why natural gas is distributed with an additive that
>gives a distinctive odor - as long as people pay attention to that
>warning, they are probably going to be okay.
>The damage would be limited in the case of a home leak - though some homes
>(think about apartment high rises) are closer together than others.
>There is a different and much larger scale issue, however, with regard to
>natural gas transmission pipelines.
>There have been a number of warning explosions that have already caused
>human suffering and death, but the warnings have not been followed with
>the kind of increased scrutiny that may be merited. Often, the gas
>pipeline companies have been able to ward off inspection requirements by
>talking to politicians and regulators about the high cost of implementing them.
>These are high pressure, high capacity piping systems that occasionally
>get dinged, corroded, eroded, etc. They carry a high energy gas that is
>quite hazardous if allowed to accumulate to a certain concentration,
>especially if exposed to a spark source.
>I, for one, will never forget the plight of the family that was camping
>near Carlsbad NM on August 19, 2000. A pipeline running near their
>riverside camp site exploded, causing a huge crater and killing all twelve
>members of the family - eventually. Two family members died very painful
>deaths after being burned over a large portion of their bodies.
>The damage to the pipeline (owned and operated by El Paso Natural Gas Co.)
>was at least as big a culprit as Enron in the energy crisis experienced by
>California that winter, since the pipe represented about 1/3 of the import
>capacity for the state and it required about 6-9 months to repair/reroute
>the pipe. The tight supplies are what allowed the market manipulation in
>the first place.
>However, you never find any anti-gas group saying something like "remember
>Carlsbad" or commemorating the memory of the victims. You cannot also
>point to any change in direction or regulation of the industry as a result
>of the warning that was far more deadly to the general public than was TMI.
>Here is a reference that I saved describing the accident: (It came off of
>AOL's news service, and gives LCG as the original source. I no longer
>remember what LCG stands for.)
>Last Pipeline Victim Dies
>LCG, Sept. 6, 2000—Twenty-five-year-old Amanda Smith, who lost her
>husband, children and in- laws in a New Mexico natural gas pipeline
>explosion on August 19, became the 12th fatality of the fiery blast when
>she succumbed to burns yesterday in a Lubbock, Texas hospital.
>Twelve members of two families on a fishing trip had camped along the
>Pecos River, not far from Carlsbad Caverns, when a pre-dawn eruption of a
>pipeline owned by El Paso Natural Gas Co. engulfed them in flame. Ten
>persons were killed outright and Smith and her father-in-law were taken in
>critical condition to University Medical Center in Lubbock. The
>father-in-law died two days after the explosion.
>El Paso Natural Gas said last month the pipeline had been inspected a year
>ago and could not explain the cause of the rupture in the 50-year-old
>conduit. "Pipeline doesn't have a life span as long as it's well
>maintained," maintained company spokesman Mel Scott.
>The federal Office of Pipeline Safety warned El Paso Natural Gas in a
>letter dated March 27, 1997, that company technicians had not been
>properly instructed in the operation of an anti-corrosion system that
>protects buried pipelines from corrosion caused by natural electrolysis.
>National Transportation Board investigators say they found corrosion
>inside the killer pipeline that had eaten half-way through the pipeline
>wall in places, but added that their investigation could take up to a year
>to pinpoint the cause of the tragedy.
>On February 11, 2003 the National Transportation Safety Board issued its
>findings in NTSB report number PB2003-916501. If you are interested in
>reading the report and following the actions that were actually
>implemented, you can find some information by entering that report number
>in a Google search. (The report itself is at
>One of the more interesting documents that I found in my search was titled
>Transmission Pipelines and Land Use Issues: A Risk-Informed Approach which
>is available at
>That report gives quite a few recommendations, but I have been unable to
>determine if any of them were implemented.
>Bottom line - all large scale energy systems are potentially hazardous and
>need good design engineering, sufficient rules and operators with a safety
>culture. Unfortunately, it often seems to me that the "cost be damned"
>approach that is applied to nuclear power is generally not equitably
>applied to other power sources, which leaves risk that is not adequately
>addressed or understood.
>Editor, Atomic Insights
>On Jun 2, 2006, at 12:07 PM, Bill Garland wrote:
>>I understand the sentiment but I don't worry about the gas line into my
>>house any more than I do worry about the other managed risks at my
>>home. I suspect there are more electrical related deaths than gas
>>related deaths. No one was hurt in the Montreal incident. So I assume
>>we can manage the risks of any of these technologies. If the overall
>>cost gets too high because of the safety features, then it won't be
>>used. At any rate, the big driving factor for using gas, oil, etc for
>>heating is efficiency. My high efficiency gas furnace is 97% efficient I
>>think. Why not, given that heat transfer can be 100% efficient in
>>principle. But if you use a heat source to do work (ie pump electrons up
>>hill) the heat engine efficiency is typically 30 to 40%. Using
>>electricity is quite an inefficient way to heat a house. It does make
>>sense to use electricity to run a heat pump, though, if the pipes can be
>>economically installed in your back yard.
>>At 10:29 AM 02/06/2006, Randal Leavitt wrote:
>>> >Gas-main rupture
>>> >The Gazette; PC
>>> >Published: Friday, June 02, 2006
>>>When we finally get to liquid fuelled reactors I wonder if we can have a
>>>reactor in every house and pump the fuel to them through the old gas
>>>pipes. Boy, we sure do invent crazy systems! Gas should be burned
>>>centrally and the energy moved to our houses as electricity. The idea
>>>of a gas pipe running into my house is terrifying.
>>>Randal Leavitt ---------- gnupg public key: bbbad04d