Safety Board: Ban Gas Blows

Thursday, October 28, 2010 @ 10:10 AM gHale

There needs to be a ban on the practice of cleaning out debris from gas piping using pressurized natural gas, U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said last week.
Dr. Moure-Eraso called the practice, known in the industry as a gas blow, to be “inherently unsafe activity.” He passed along his thoughts in a video safety message.
Earlier this month in a story on ISSSource, CSB Member Mark Griffon called on the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to adopt the CSB recommendation.
This all comes after an investigation into the February 7 explosion this year at the Kleen Energy power plant in Middletown, Connecticut that killed six workers. The plant was under construction at the time.
Workers used hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of natural gas to clean debris from gas pipes used to fuel electricity-producing turbines.The gas accumulated in and around the buildings, was ignited by an unknown ignition source, and exploded.
At a CSB public meeting June 28, 2010, in Middletown, Connecticut, the board issued 18 urgent recommendations, including one to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calling for federal regulations that would prohibit the release of flammable gas to the atmosphere for the purpose of cleaning fuel gas piping.
At the time, the Board also issued similar recommendations to the NFPA and ASME to amend their codes and standards to require the use of inherently safer methods during the cleaning of fuel gas piping.
Three months after the CSB’s public meeting, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell issued an executive order banning the use of natural gas blows during power plant construction in the state.
In addition to this safety message, the CSB is issuing letters to the other 49 states warning of the hazards associated with gas blows and urging state officials to enact any necessary changes to their respective state regulations and codes to prohibit gas blows at power plants and other similar facilities.

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