Natural Gas Explosion at Murray State University

On June 28th, NBC News reported a natural gas explosion on the campus at Murray State University.  According to the report, a dormitory building known as the Richmond Residential College, sustained heavy damage and injured at least one employee.  Since the incident occurred, no news reports have been issued with regard to exactly where the gas leak was located, ie, whether the leak was inside the building or outside; upstream or downstream of the gas meter.  The location of the gas leak is significant because it served to indicate whether the leak was the fault of gas line installers or servicing personnel since the building was constructed in 2009 OR the fault of an aging gas line infrastructure that was the responsibility of the local natural gas provider.  If installers or servicing personnel had been working on the line and failed to adequately test for leaks, then the fault would lie with them.  However, if the gas supply line failed, then the gas company (or the owner of the line) is most likely at fault.  If this is what happened, then this becomes another example of how an aging gas line is neglected and becomes a serious danger to those who use the fuel that is piped to their homes and businesses.  The sale of natural gas is a business – everyone knows that.  Because it is a business, the business also has expenses, one of which would be the expensive replacement of line segments as they reach the end of their useful life.  Natural gas pipelines are not all the same size.  Some are much larger and require thicker walls depending on the pressure within.  The pressure that has to be contained is a factor that has to be considered in establishing the useful life of the pipe.  But, when decisions are made (by management) that extend the use of pipe beyond the expected life, that’s when people and property are put in harm’s way.  The company’s and their managing personnel that utilize this kind of asset management must be held accountable.  One only has to do a little bit of research on the internet to find that there have been a number of explosions in recent years, not only in the natural gas industry but, in the petroleum industry as well.  A little more research and one will find that gas line age can vary from 20 to 50 plus years.  Infrastructure in the United States is important and part of that infrastructure depends on maintaining our natural gas lines.

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Product Recalls

Ford Ranger:

The Ford Motor Company has recalled nearly 400, 000 year model 2004-2006 Ford Ranger vehicles manufactured between March 24, 2003 and May 4, 2006.  Ford has learned that if the driver’s side front air bag is deployed, the inflator can also rupture.  This recall is part of the Takata air bag problem.  In the event of a rupture, metal fragments cause serious injury and possibly death to the driver and passengers.  Ford will notify owners and will replace the inflators free of charge.  The recall was expected to begin on March 7, 2016.  For additional information, owners can contact Ford by calling 1-866-436-7332 and referring to recall number 16S03.

Propane Gas:

Now that the winter is coming to an end, most homeowners and businesses will begin to use their furnaces less and less.  But, before that happens, there is an ironic twist that consumers should know about.  Approximately 118,000,000 gallons of propane had been recalled due to insufficient odorization.  That is, the gas contains an insufficient level of odorant to help alert consumers of a gas leak.  Failure to detect a gas leak can result in fire and explosion hazards.  The propane gas has been distributed in the following states: Arizona, Idaho, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Utah.  Consumers should contact their gas supplier or Crescent Point Energy Corporation to arrange for an inspection of their equipment.  Crescent Point Energy can be contacted by calling 1-866-421-4266.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission has assigned a recall number of 16-101 dated February 12, 2016.

Gas Station Hose Swivel Sets:

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that Franklin Fueling Systems has recalled approximately 9000 gas station hose swivel fitting sets. The swivel fitting can separate allowing fuel to spill creating a fire and explosion hazard.  The swivel fittings have been stamped with date codes for both ¾ and 1 inch hose diameters.  For ¾ inch hoses, the date code range is M1615 to M3515.  For 1 inch hoses, the date code range is M2215 to M4115.  Fueling stations should immediately stop using the recalled hose/fitting set and contact Franklin Fueling Systems to receive a full refund or a replacement hose/swivel fitting set.  Franklin Fueling Systems can be contacted by calling 1-800-984-6266.

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