Potter County Sheriff’s Dept.
>>> INCIDENT REPORT
By MICHAEL GARLOCK
Texas Pipeline Explosion
Challenges Rural Responders
xplosions of natural gas pipe- system over four hours in the down-
lines are unexpected, violent, town district of Analco.
and frequently result in signifi- The Humberto Vidal Explosion
cant loss of lives and property. They occurred on Nov. 21, 1996, in a
can occur anytime, anyplace on land shoe store of the same name in Rio
and at sea. An Internet sampling Piedras, Puerto Rico, and killed 33
found the following: On March 18, and injured 69 when the building col-
1937, a natural gas leak caused an lapsed. Twelve members of the same
explosion that destroyed the New family were killed on Aug. 19, 2000,
London School in New London, TX, near Carlsbad, NM, when severe
killing 300 students and teachers. internal corrosion caused a natural
The East Ohio Gas Co. gas explo- gas pipeline to explode.
sion in Cleveland, OH, occurred on
the afternoon of Oct. 20, 1944. The Nighttime Blast
resulting gas leak, explosion and By comparison, the 1,500 resi-
associated fires killed 130 people and dents of Bushland, TX, were fortunate
destroyed one square mile on the when a pipeline explosion caused
city’s east side. by a ruptured El Paso Natural Gas (a
Although related safety and subsidiary of Houston-based El Paso
technological advances may have Corp.) line pump station in the Prairie
incrementally decreased the number West subdivision caused a massive,
of fatalities per incident, escalating 10-story geyser of fire and result-
usage and ever-increasing demands ing blaze that rocked their homes
continue to stress the industry as a and lit up the night sky at 1 A.M. on
whole. On March 4, 1965, a section Nov. 5, 2009. The blast created a
of pipeline north of Natchitoches, 14-foot crater, threw potentially lethal
LA, owned by the Tennessee Gas chunks of dirt up to 100 feet away
Pipeline Co. exploded due to stress and started at least seven brushfires.
corrosion cracking, killing 17 people. The shock waves rattled windows in
This accident led to President Lyndon Amarillo, about 15 miles to the west.
B. Johnson’s formation of a national The El Paso Corp. owns North
pipeline safety agency. America’s largest interstate natural
On Dec. 5, 1968, five repairmen gas pipeline system – approximately
responding to a rupture of a liquefied 42,000 miles – and transports more
petroleum gas (LPG) pipeline near than a quarter of the natural gas con-
Yutan, NE, were killed when they sumed in the United States each day.
drove into a vapor cloud and ignited The company, which ranks in the top
it. A natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline 10 domestic independent producers,
ruptured in Austin, TX, on Feb. 22, finds, develops and produces natural
1973, killing six pe