As of 2018, there were more than 2.5 million miles of gas distribution, gathering, and transmission pipelines in the United States. And there were over 215,800 miles of liquid commodity pipelines across the country. Liquid commodities include biofuel, carbon dioxide, crude oil, HVL Flamm Toxic, and refined PP. In 2018, there were 90 serious injuries and seven fatalities because of pipeline explosions not caused by “fire first” incidents — those in which something other than the gas system caused a release of gas. If you have been injured in a pipeline explosion or lost a loved one because of such an incident, fill out this form for a free case evaluation.
Causes of Pipeline Explosions
Several factors could cause a pipeline explosion. In some cases, the explosions couldn’t have been averted, though in most cases, they are preventable. An obvious cause of some explosions is because a fire started in or near the pipeline. Additional causes include:
- Excavation work. If an excavator damages a pipeline, gas could leak and cause an explosion. Regulations require construction contractors to properly identify the location of pipelines before they start work, but this doesn’t always happen.
- Improper installation. Improper welding and other installation errors could cause gas leaks and other circumstances leading to an explosion. The installers should also install emergency shutoff valves to contain problems. An incident that could be controlled can turn disastrous without such devices.
- Poor maintenance. If the pipelines are not maintained properly, the aging process could cause explosions. For example, if a section of pipeline is not replaced due to rusting, it could cause leaks and an explosion.
- Defective safety equipment. If safety equipment is not properly installed, it could cause an explosion. If the equipment is installed properly but has a manufacturer defect, it could also cause an explosion. In this case, you could have a product liability lawsuit.
- Failure to properly train. Pipeline installation must comply with OSHA standards. These safety regulations could be difficult to understand even for someone who has technical knowledge in the field. If employees are not properly trained to protect pipeline safety, this could lead to an accidental explosion. Training should encompass the installation of safety equipment and the knowledge of how to coordinate with local emergency response teams should an emergency develop.
- Failure to respond. If an emergency develops and personnel does not respond in a timely manner, an explosion could occur. Any gas leak is an emergency. Because natural gas does not have an odor, a consumer cannot smell a gas leak. Thus, an odorant must be added to the gas, which makes it smell like sulfur or rotten eggs. If a natural gas company fails to add the odorant or if the odorant is absorbed by new pipes, a consumer may not smell a gas leak before an explosion occurs.
Contact a Pipeline Explosion Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pipeline explosion, contact Morgan & Morgan. We understand the trying times you’re going through and want to be by your side to hold the liable party responsible. We’ll assign you a full legal team to navigate your claim and answer all questions every step of the way. Also, we never charge by the hour – you pay us only if we win. Morgan & Morgan treats every client like family and takes their cases personally. Fill out a free case evaluation
and discover what we can do for you.