Pressure in Exploded Massachusetts Pipes 12X More than Normal

Last Thursday a major accident occurred 25 miles northwest of Boston when delivery pipelines owned by Columbia Gas (NiSource) in three communities exploded and caught fire at more than 80 locations (see Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25). The explosions and resulting fires tragically killed one teenager and injured some 25 others. Local officials ordered over 8,000 residents and businesses in the three communities to evacuate–until Sunday. A major incident. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating. According to an NTSB spokesman, the early indicators are that a pressure sensor is the cause. Here’s what *may have* happened: A pressure sensor that controls how much gas is pumped through local pipelines was attached to a portion of a pipeline that was capped at both ends and closed off. The sensor detected little-to-no pressure, so it signaled the system to keep increasing the pressure, to flow more gas. The pressure eventually reached 12 times what it should have been, and the older cast iron and steel pipelines couldn’t take it, resulting in explosions and fires affecting more than 80 homes and businesses…

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