Monday, February 14, 2011
Last week there was an explosion in nearby Allentown that left five people dead and damaged 47 homes, eight of them beyond repair. It’s speculated that the explosion was caused by a natural gas leak though none were reported in the area. Natural gas has no odor on its own. Gas companies add a compound to make it detectable, giving it a rotten egg smell.
There are over two and a half million miles of gas pipelines in this country, many of which have been in place 40 years or longer. The older pipes are corrodible steel which have a life expectancy of approximately 50 years. The pipe section in the area in Allentown that exploded was 83 years old. It’s being dug up and sent for testing to see if it was broken before the explosion or if the explosion caused the break. I heard on the radio this morning how expensive it is to inspect and replace such an extensive infrastructure. I’m not disputing that. But when is the cost of something worth more than human lives?
Pennsylvania is now producing some of its own natural gas. Good in that the revenue stays here. Bad in that the moisture content is higher than other sources of natural gas which means it will be harder on pipes that are already weakened due to age and weather conditions. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Am I suggesting that we should all now spend our lives worrying about possible gas explosions? No, of course not. That would be an incredible waste of your time. Worry about the things you can control or change. Hope for the best with things you can’t. Just please, be aware. If you think you smell a gas leak, report it. Better to have someone come out and check than to risk blowing up your, or my, neighborhood.