Google the words “natural gas explosion” and you get well over 2.2
million hits – that’s because natural gas explosions seem to be
occurring with disturbing regularity in this country.
- January 19, 2011, a natural gas main explodes in Philadelphia, killing one individual and critically injuring three others.
- December 29, 2010, a massive natural gas explosion destroys a
furniture store in aDetroit suburb, killing two employees. Their
families have filed wrongful death suits against the natural gas
utility, Consumers Energy.
- September 9, 2010, an horrific natural gas explosion devastated
a neighborhood in San Bruno, California, killing eight
people and destroying 38 homes.
The question, we fear, is not if
a natural gas explosion of similar magnitude could happen in New York City or some other major American urban center, it’s when
Indeed, there are more than 5,000 miles of natural gas pipeline
beneath the streets, homes and buildings of New York City and according
to public records, a significant portion of that underground pipeline is
made of aging cast iron that’s prone to leak.
Indeed, hundreds of miles of this pipeline are at least 100 years old and some of it even dates back to 1889.
The pipeline that exploded in San Bruno, by comparison, was 62 years old.
Unfortunately, no one can say with any certainty what condition the
natural gas pipelines under New York City are in; the only way anyone
can find out for sure is when there’s a leak – or worse.
The New York Post ran a story
detailing the magnitude of the problem back in September, in the days
following the natural gas explosion that destroyed nearly three city
blocks in San Bruno, but since that time, the public discourse has moved
on, overtaken by current events that have pushed the problem out of the
As far as the natural gas utilities are concerned, that’s probably a
good thing. But San Bruno hasn’t forgotten, and neither should New York
How safe is New York City's natural gas infrastructure?
Over the coming weeks and months, NaturalGasWatch.com
will track some of these natural gas tragedies, highlighting some of the more disturbing incidents.