We’ve already discussed how aging gas pipelines across Missouri, Illinois and the rest of the United States are putting many innocent lives at risk. Unfortunately, there are other dangers with gas pipelines than just their age that can cause catastrophic gas explosions and fires. One such risk is that of inaccurate utility line marking. Last year, inaccurate line marking apparently contributed to a deadly explosion in Kansas City after a drilling company ruptured a gas line. Without gas pipeline industry reforms, these tragedies will continue.
In last year’s case, Heartland Midwest, the drilling contractor in question, had been hired by Time Warner Cable to perform tunneling work in a Kansas City alleyway. Reports indicate that only two utility lines had been marked on the pavement — but that three lines were actually beneath the surface. That included not just one, but two electric cables along with a gas line. This all occurred in close proximity to JJ’s restaurant, a long-time fixture in the Kansas City area.
Once the gas line was struck, someone made an emergency call to 911, at which point a fire truck was dispatched to the scene. Emergency personnel reportedly informed the restaurant workers that they should put out all open flames immediately. For some unknown reason, however, they did not give the order to evacuate the restaurant. Not too long after, a violent explosion took place, destroying JJ’s restaurant and injuring several people. Tragically, a waitress lost her life in the explosion.
It is not yet clear why the third line running beneath the alleyway wasn’t clearly marked. It seems obvious that someone had to have known it was present. Regardless, at least one former government official points out that explosions like these do not have to happen, even if utility lines are improperly marked. He stresses that there are many new technologies available to prevent such gas explosions and fires from occurring. GPS mapping technology is one such state-of-the-art upgrade that could greatly increase safety in digging around utility lines.
In the meantime, dangerous gas explosions and fires keep occurring. One man went through a horrific nightmare in another state three years ago due to a gas explosion in his apartment home. The man had been sub-leasing a garage apartment from a friend at the time. For reasons which aren’t immediately clear, a Southern California Gas Co. worker opened a natural gas valve in the vicinity of the apartment. That resulted in a gas line which fed into the converted garage being activated. The garage apartment soon filled with gas, resulting in an explosion of fire when the unsuspecting young man lit a cigarette.
The then 23-year-old suffered severe burn injuries to a good portion of his body, in addition to a brain injury that has severely affected his daily life. In fact, it is believed that he will never be able to hold down a job, something which seems especially tragic considering how intelligent and hard-working the young man was.
Recently, he was awarded nearly $20 million as the result of a civil personal injury lawsuit filed against the utility company and the owners of the property where the gas explosion occurred. While this monetary award will not take his injuries away, they will help provide for the man for the rest of his life. Considering the severity of his injuries and the fact he is unable to work, this financial award should alleviate much of the financial strain that he was currently facing.
The unfortunate fact is that, without gas pipeline industry reforms, tragedies like these will continue occurring. Anyone in Missouri or Illinois who has been injured in gas explosions or fires like the ones mentioned here have the right to seek civil restitution in a court of law. My St. Louis personal injury law firm can be reached, toll-free, at 1-888-586-7041. Please call us as soon as possible to schedule an initial consultation which will cost nothing in order to discuss the facts of your case. Tragedies like these do not have to occur, and we stand ready to help victims seek the financial restitution to which they are entitled.
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Source: Article: “Kansas City catastrophe brings calls for reforms” from WhaTech.com and Article: “Man awarded nearly $20 million for 2011 natural gas explosion in San Gabriel” by Bill Hetherman from the Pasadena Star-News.