It’s been just over a year since a significant natural gas pipeline explosion rocked the small Missouri town of Houstonia. The natural gas pipeline explosion sent a huge fireball bursting into the sky, with some reporting it as a 300-foot wide “ball of flames.” The pipeline belonged to Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Co., and its 1 a.m explosion on Nov. 29, 2013 caused several buildings in its vicinity to become engulfed in flame.
Residents in the area were evacuated as a precaution, and one woman said she feared they wouldn’t have homes to return to after the explosion and resulting fires. Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Co. issued a report stating that the rupture of a 30-inch pipeline led to the explosion, although officials are still investigating exactly what led to the incident. While nobody suffered injuries in the explosion or fires, this is not the first time such a pipeline explosion has occurred in that vicinity to pipelines under the control of Panhandle Eastern.
Back in 2008, a similar pipeline rupture happened in Cooper County, causing approximately $100,000 in damages. Officials later determined that the 2008 explosion occurred due to corrosion and improper maintenance of the pipeline. Some have suggested this could be the cause behind the 2013 explosion and fire as well, although it is too early to state that with any certainty. The 2013 explosion was so severe that people reported seeing the fireball 12-15 miles away. Some even reported they heard the explosion in Sedalia, which is located miles away from Houstonia.
After a Missouri or Illinois gas pipeline explosion such as this one, investigators try to determine the exact cause. This can be important to establish in order to prevent future occurrences. It also helps any plaintiffs who have suffered personal injury or property damage as they seek to hold a negligent third party responsible, if appropriate. Some of the most common causes that lead to natural gas pipeline explosions include:
- A failure to maintain natural gas lines, meters, joints, service lines, or gas mains;
- A failure to replace cast iron pipelines, notorious for corroding and suffering from over-pressurization;
- Improper installation or a failure to install proper emergency shut-off valves;
- Defective parts, such as control valves or gas connectors;
- Mechanical damage caused by excavation work;
- A failure to adhere to at least the minimum gas pipeline safety regulations;
- A failure to timely or appropriately respond to reports of suspected gas leaks from consumers; and
- Inadequate safety training for gas workers or insufficient safety practices.
If you or a loved one have suffered personal injury or wrongful death due to a natural gas pipeline explosion, please call our St. Louis burn injury law firm toll-free at 1-888-586-7041. We can schedule a free initial meeting at your earliest convenience to provide you more information about your rights under the law. If another party’s negligence led to a gas pipe explosion and fire, you may be able to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in a civil court of law. A successful lawsuit will result in a monetary award to compensate you for the damages you have incurred.
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Sources: http://www.universityherald.com/articles/5903/20131130/sedalia-explosion-natural-gas-pipeline-fire-rocks-missouri-town.htm and http://metroforensics.blogspot.com/2014/11/one-year-anniversary-of-houstonia-mo.html