Comments about technological history, system fractures, and human resilience from James R. Chiles, the author of Inviting Disaster: Lessons from the Edge of Technology (HarperBusiness 2001; paperback 2002) and The God Machine: From Boomerangs to Black Hawks, the Story of the Helicopter (Random House, 2007, paperback 2008)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Another pipeline blast

Following the intense gas-transmission line fire that started last night at San Bruno, CA: a local article is here.

This article from the San Jose Mercury says it was an 8-alarm fire and the radiant heat was enough to ignite furniture through a plate glass window.

In a Time blog on "natural gas industry under new scrutiny," there's a map of the pipelines feeding into CA.

Natural gas is a rare energy source in that (until the hydro-fracking controvery, anyway) it has generated little concern on a national level although there have been some catastrophic events on a local scale and a number of regional controversies about proposed LNG terminals.

Big gas-line breaks are statistically rare but release a great deal of energy.
Causes are usually construction machinery damage or corrosion. One of the worst US gas-line blasts caused was due to untended corrosion and caused fatalities at a camping site on the Pecos River near Carlsbad, NM, in 2000. The NTSB report on that one is here.

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