Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How Safe Are America's 2.5 Million Miles of Pipelines?

Map of major natural gas and oil pipelines in the U.S. Hazardous liquid lines in red, gas transmission lines in blue. Image: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
How Safe Are America's 2.5 Million Miles of Pipelines?

via Scientific America

The nation's aging oil pipelines are roughly 70 times safer than trucks when it comes to transporting fuel. But when a pipeline does fail, the consequences can be catastrophic.

At 6:11 p.m. on September 6, 2010, San Bruno, Calif. 911 received an urgent call. A gas station had just exploded and a fire with flames reaching 300 feet was raging through the neighborhood. The explosion was so large that residents suspected an airplane crash. But the real culprit was found underground: a ruptured pipeline spewing natural gas caused a blast that left behind a 72 foot long crater, killed eight people, and injured more than fifty.

Over 2,000 miles away in Michigan, workers were still cleaning up another pipeline accident, which spilled 840,000 gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. Estimated to cost $800 million, the accident is the most expensive pipeline spill in U.S. history.

Read more: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-safe-are-americas-2-5-million-miles-of-pipelines&print=true

There's an incomplete list of significant US pipeline accidents on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pipeline_accidents_in_the_United_States

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