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Houses are blowing up all over North shore Massachusetts.

brandonfbrandonf Posts: 60Member
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  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Posts: 381Member
    just saw on abc news. crazy
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 8,374Member
    Something like 35 houses just now (about 7:00 PM) -- and not all in the same area at all.
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Posts: 2,089Member
    Yikes. Super old gas mains?
    steve
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 12,215Member
    Probably overpressurized, in which case this would probably be the result of someone's screw-up.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 4,080Member
    Makes old fuel oil seem not so bad right about now.

    Sounds like a high pressure regulator failed. Certainly should have downstream pressure reliefs on that stuff.

    Although utilities are not covered by the state plumbing code my guess is that PRVs will be required on hp gas before the meters ......starting tomorrow. Probably want the prv discharge piped above the highest point of the roof LOL
  • Could air have got into the lines, and then supported combustion?—NBC
  • EdEd Posts: 31Member
    The Gas company was doing upgrades in the area, something got screwed up and the main over pressurized , the question is were there not pressure regulators on the meters at each house? Is there a point where the incoming pressure could overcome the regulator and enter the house piping?
  • IronmanIronman Posts: 4,289Member
    If these houses were in a low pressure zone, there are no regulators on the gas meters; it's done on the lines in the street. If that got over-pressurized...
    Bob Boan







    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • GBartGBart Posts: 466Member
    memo---- " let's not hire trained people, they cost too much money"
  • GBartGBart Posts: 466Member
    edited September 14
    My guess at this point is they were replacing part of a main which was stated, they ran a small line between the points to keep the system up, over pressurized the small bypass to keep pressure from dropping in the large mains, either they had no regulator at that point of re-entry into the main or the one they had was set wrong or failed and no one noticed and three towns got over-pressurized resulting in over 70 incidents at buildings ranging from fire to explosion to leaks, no fewer than 18 fires at a given moment and many injuries and so far it seems one death.
  • GBartGBart Posts: 466Member
    There was a study done in 2014 regarding over-pressurization, they basically concluded that as an area of population density increases and gas use along with it the potential for gas explosions increases because gas companies don't replace mains, they raise pressure to keep feeding more customers.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 12,215Member
    You can't fix stupid!
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 4,080Member
    This one is going to cost Nisource/Columbia Gas millions...and it should, somebody screwed up. I have been told there is still wooden gas pipe being used in the Boston area. The newspaper today states that some existing gas pipe goes back to the 1860s may not have been part of this issue but they need to fix up the infrastructure....they make millions.

    I am on Columbia gas myself but at the other end of the state.

    Gee, I don't suppose there will be any gas rate increase in the future, will there?????

    Now to add to the boondoggle the FEDS are investigating
  • kevink1955kevink1955 Posts: 46Member
    Does anyone know the area, is it a low pressure system where the gas is delivered by 7" wc at the mains with no regulator at the meter? Where I am on Long Island the mains are medium pressure and every meter has a regulator.

    I assume the regulator at the meter would prevent a main overpressure from getting to the building, just how much overpressure can the regulator take.

    I used to install emergency generators, some required 2psi at the inlet, we always had a fight with the utility to provide a meter regulator at "that high a pressure"

    Whats everyone's thoughts and ideas on how to prevent this from ever happening again
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 4,080Member
    @kevink1955
    Not sure about the area I am at the other end of the state but Lowell, MA is a very old area. I have done a lot of commercial burners. They usually make us use a "lock up" regulator which will shut and not feed gas if the inlet is subjected to high pressure. The regulator bodies are usually rated 125 psi. Don't know about the residential regulators

    yeah, I can see them requiring pressure relief valves ahead of the residential gas meters. Anything mechanical can fail but somehow with such a widespread problem I am thinking human error.

    I would be interested in what @Tim McElwain could add to this. I would bet he has a lot of knowledge of the utilities distribution system
  • Solid_Fuel_ManSolid_Fuel_Man Posts: 1,001Member
    edited September 15
    I'd think lockups would be the safest thing to have. That way relief outlets aren't all venting cubic feet of NG all over the place at one time. That seems it could be catastrophic in of itself.

    Scary stuff! It seems low pressure distribution is actually the least safe as there is no protection at each service to prevent something like this.
    Master electrician specialising in boiler and burner controls, multiple fuel systems, radiant system controls, building controls, and universal refrigeration tech.
  • Jim_RJim_R Posts: 149Member
    In the neighboring town a house got leveled by what had to be a gas explosion a few weeks ago but it was overshadowed by the rescue of the home owner whom they heard crying for help , he was rescued
    But the point is that I was on the throne on the second floor when it happened, probably 3-4 miles away but running parallel to me , 1 block approx off main st. I don't recall hearing a explosion but it was like a quiet thud I felt.. had no clue until I saw it later on the news and what I came up with, right or wrong I'm not sure , but the area was mined out years ago and the explosions force just kept following the underground infrastructure and in a 90 year old house with cast iron dwv , I must of felt the shock.. Which got me thinking about the the old infrastructure and just that explosion may have disturbed and we'll be cursing the Water Company when the winter cold reaches the weak spot created by ( potentially) that gas explosion and bursts..
    I guess I never thought of what starts cycles.. etc..
    K.. I'm done
    Jim
    Good luck out there
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Posts: 4,079Member
    From what I have been told by someone I know who works for Columbia gas it was a contractor working for the gas company and they hooked up a 45 pound pressure line to a 3 pound pressure line by mistake. The 3 pound line is considered intermediate pressure the 45 is high pressure. If there were any regulators at the meters the internal relief on the regulators should have vented the excess pressure to atmosphere. If the piping system was old or had inside meters and regulators instead of outside that would explain why some houses exploded or caught fire and others did not.
  • Jim_RJim_R Posts: 149Member
    They wouldn't of hooked up inside a building a regulator that would release the gas into the house.. or would they ?
  • gerry gillgerry gill Posts: 2,842Member
    I imagine that lawyers are lining up nut to butt....
    gwgillplumbingandheating.com

    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 4,442Member
    It surprised me years ago as to how many reg/meter set ups are still in basements with UG gas pipes (all looking old/rusty) entering thru the basement wall. I see these on this site a lot. And not every reg was vented to the outside. So 45 applied to a 3 PSI system could have blown thru many regulators putting a blow torch in the basements, does that sound possible??

    Our area has relatively "new" NG systems installed in the mid 60's. The rule then was to always break ground outside and enter the building above grade. The reg/meter is in the alley or just outside the building. Usually only 7" into the building, they have just started allowing 2 PSI for heavy users.

    I recall reading stories from the cities with old systems, of a backhoe in the neighbors yard hooking a ladies gas pipe and breaking it off inside the basement ..…..she was lucky as she was standing at the back door watching the work being done.....she was blown to safety into the yard.
    Another case was horizontal boring company pierced a gas line going into a restaurant, I assume gas flowed thru the loose pack of the old trench and came into the basement, took a long time to find a main shutoff. Alley was probably concreted over & frozen and the gas took the easiest route into the basement.

    Scary yet was finding some 50+ year old soft copper coming in under the shallow footings of a couple of old farm houses.
    This was propane which would certainly have followed the trench into the crawlspace. Only one single stage reg at the tank, also the same age as the copper.
  • ZmanZman Posts: 4,212Member
    JUGHNE said:


    Another case was horizontal boring company pierced a gas line going into a restaurant, I assume gas flowed thru the loose pack of the old trench and came into the basement, took a long time to find a main shutoff. Alley was probably concreted over & frozen and the gas took the easiest route into the basement.

    I know a guy that owned a boring company that blew up a bunch of houses that way. They are not in business any more....
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • ch4manch4man Posts: 70Member
    yep beware of directional boring rigs. they have the ability to pierce a line hundreds of feet away.

    im still struck by so many comments that the homeowners boilers were on fire. this leads me to believe they were not on a 3 psi system but a 7" system no regs on 7" gas so the burners go to blow torch. a 3 psi system the regs would vent (hopefully to the outside)

    if there were no vent pipe to the outside and thats were the excess gas was blowing, why did the gas appliances burn?

    my guess and its just a guess, is they were doing a pressure upgrade some where on the system but failed to identify a pathway to these other communities where there 7" system has not yet been prepped for the upgrade

    remember in California a large transmission line blew up an entire neighborhood. that gas company had no record of that line on their system, the didnt even know it was there
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 4,080Member
    news reports are that columbia gas is hiding and slow to respond. governor baker did the right thing quickly and declared a state of emergency dumped Columbia and turned the job over to Eversourse.

    as of today all are allowed back into their homes and electric power can be restored. the gas it will probably be a month before that's on

  • leonzleonz Posts: 247Member
    edited September 16
    ch4man said:

    yep beware of directional boring rigs. they have the ability to pierce a line hundreds of feet away.
    I'm still struck by so many comments that the homeowners boilers were on fire. this leads me to believe they were not on a 3 psi system but a 7" system no regulators on 7" gas so the burners go to blow torch. a 3 psi system the regulators would vent (hopefully to the outside).
    If there were no vent pipe to the outside and that is were the excess gas was blowing, why did the gas appliances burn?
    My guess and its just a guess, is they were doing a pressure upgrade some where on the system but failed to identify a pathway to these other communities where there 7" system has not yet been prepped for the upgrade
    Remember in California a large transmission line blew up an entire neighborhood. that gas company had no record of that line on their system, the did not even know it was there

    ========================================================================================================================================================================================================================


    It is never a case of beware of Horizontal Directional Drilling and its use.
    It is effectively and safely used in many areas for many types of utilities as well and Combined Sanitary and storm water overflow collection pipelines fed from underground catch basins that pump the overflow CSS waste water to the sewage treatment plants for sewage treatment and later discharge

    The use of ground penetrating radar and the most up to date maps for all utilities in the area that the work is being done is what saves everyone's bacon.

    Anyone that does not use ground handheld penetrating radar or contracts for this service and robotic sewer camera inspection systems to find illegal storm and sanitary sewer connections along the route should be using them.

    It is always a case of using the newest and (properly drawn map legends) for existing municipal sanitary sewer interceptor force mains, gravity fed trunk sewer lines and for locating the gravity fed and force main interceptor storm sewer lines, potable water distribution lines, potable water main gate valves, buried curb boxes and the block by block maps for water connections and residential and commercial underground phone and electrical power lines and the transformer and switch gear vaults as well as the location of the feeder cables to the residences and businesses.

    About the unknown gas pipeline in California; The first home in the neighborhood that was destroyed was owned by a Negro gentleman. He was the only one home at the time when the pipeline blew up.

    From what I remember of it:

    The home the gentleman purchased on the site was built directly over the pipeline that was buried there many years ago.

    The building contractor and or excavator contractor built the home as a slab on grade construction method with a shallow foundation wall and footer and THE ENCLOSED GARAGE WAS DIRECTLY OVER THE BURIED PIPELINE from what I remember of the national news show interview with the gentleman at the time.

    (The pipeline and trenchless installation companies did not use coated piping until maybe 20 years ago to reduce/prevent galvanic corrosion from damaging the pipelines after the pipeline joints are welded they coat the joints with a roller using the same epoxy paint material used to coat the pipe after it is manufactured at the foundry)

    The pipeline had cracked and the gas of course went upward and entered through the full concrete slabs cracks and if I remember this correctly the gas fed hot water heater was in the garage.

    And you guessed it, of course the worst happened. I do not know if the water heater had a standing pilot or was controlled by a Piezo Electric Igniter or not but if the gas accumulated in the garage that was closed and then was ignited it must have been a Piezo Electric demand type ignition system

    Just for everyone's information you should invest in "Trenchless technology Magazine" to learn more about Horizontal Directional Drilling and micro tunneling for utilities. The magazine is worth every penny and in many cases free to contractors that do the type of work discussed in the magazine every month.

    Many gas utilities are now using the yellow plastic gas pipe in a unique way where if possible they are pushing the new plastic gas pipe through the old steel gas pipe and then cutting out the steel connecting elbows in shallow pits wherein the electroweld new elbows using using Greenlee pipe fusing machines and then pushing the pipe through to the meter connections to save them time and money.

    A lot of plumbers are installing new municipal fed potablewater line connections to home and businesses the same way.

    Sewer line rehabilitation using steam cured woven felt fabric under pressure has come of age and used in many areas now for sanitary and storm sewer pipe rehabilitation work as well as lateral connections for sanitary and storm sewers fed by roof top drainage systems that have to be piped through to sub basements and basements.

    This is most adventageous where small and large pipe bursting using directional drilling and hydraulic powered bursting heads that are used to push through the old pipe expand and break the old pipe pull the new pipe into place using bentonite clay and water with other lubricants to slip the new pipe in to place is not possible due to the business operations or too costly to employ per foot of work in both shallow and deep trenches where the existing lines are located when pipe pulling is not possible or practical.

    www.trenchlesstechnology.com/subscribe/

    My thoughts on a hot day where its too hot to work outside.
  • gerry gillgerry gill Posts: 2,842Member

    news reports are that columbia gas is hiding and slow to respond. governor baker did the right thing quickly and declared a state of emergency dumped Columbia and turned the job over to Eversourse.

    as of today all are allowed back into their homes and electric power can be restored. the gas it will probably be a month before that's on

    A-- MONTH before the gas is restored??? Holy Moley!!!! like a third world country..
    gwgillplumbingandheating.com

    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • NY_RobNY_Rob Posts: 1,085Member


    A-- MONTH before the gas is restored??? Holy Moley!!!! like a third world country..

    Sadly, utility wise anyway... this is what the USA is becoming.

    The electrical grid is terrible, the roads are terrible, the bridges are crumbling, the schools that were built in the 50's and 60's are falling apart, the gas distribution system is ancient, the railway system is literally falling apart from use, etc.... "Aging Infrastructure" is not fake news!

    And, as mentioned earlier "let's not hire trained people, they cost too much money".

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 8,374Member
    It is true enough that directional drilling is quite safe. It is also true that carefully checking all the available information is required. However, @leonz , that does not mean that nothing can go wrong...

    Don't believe me? Read this...
    http://www.tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/pipeline/2017/p17h0011/p17h0011.asp

    I believe that the California incident which was mentioned was the PG&E rupture and fire in San Bruno. The executive summary is here: https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Pages/PAR1101.aspx
    and that page contains a link to the full report, which is interesting if slightly dismaying reading.
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 8,374Member
    And one more thought -- on the time line. One really doesn't want something to blow up again... to do this correctly means all the lines need to be purged with inert gas -- usually nitrogen -- then pressure tested, then filled with natural gas before they can be turned back on. Not something that can be done in a day over that wide a distribution system. Remember, that's all the lines -- including house laterals.
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Posts: 2,551Member
    On my street, with ever-increasing gas use (houses used to be all oil heated, now being converted to gas; gas fueled electric backup generators, etc.) the gas company replaced the 60 (or so) year old 3 1/2" or 4" black pipe supply lines with about 5" plastic lines. The old lines were nominally 15 psi, but actually tested out at about 8 psi. The new lines are 50 psi, and they measured that. On the laterals, there is a small regulator just before the meter that drops the pressure to about 7 inches. They did not need to reduce the pressure setting or replace the regulators.

    I once saw an extremely large regulator. The diaphragm assembly must have been 30 or 36 inches in diameter. I do not know what the pressure was on either the supply or delivery side of that regulator, but it must have been a lot. The thing was screaming, and as far as I can tell, that was just how it normally sounded. The pipes going in and out were very large diameter, but I do not remember what they were. Could it have been thousands of psi?
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 4,080Member
    think about it. there going to have to replace every meter, appliance gas valve , regulator etc. How do you know what is good and what is damaged?

    Are you going to take that chance
  • leonzleonz Posts: 247Member
    edited September 17

    It is true enough that directional drilling is quite safe. It is also true that carefully checking all the available information is required. However, @leonz , that does not mean that nothing can go wrong...

    Don't believe me? Read this...
    http://www.tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/pipeline/2017/p17h0011/p17h0011.asp

    I believe that the California incident which was mentioned was the PG&E rupture and fire in San Bruno. The executive summary is here: https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Pages/PAR1101.aspx
    and that page contains a link to the full report, which is interesting if slightly dismaying reading.

    ======================================================

    Not disagreeing with you at all Mr. Hall, anything can go wrong as my uncle found out when he ended up killing my closest friend and a coworker at the mine where I used to work in 1982.
    Rick was divorced with parents and a brother that he left behind and Barry left a wife and 2 young girls behind that night.

    The NTSB chief investigator on site said that it has been confirmed that this incident was caused by high pressure gas resulting in the explosions and fires that occurred.
  • ch4manch4man Posts: 70Member

    On my street, with ever-increasing gas use (houses used to be all oil heated, now being converted to gas; gas fueled electric backup generators, etc.) the gas company replaced the 60 (or so) year old 3 1/2" or 4" black pipe supply lines with about 5" plastic lines. The old lines were nominally 15 psi, but actually tested out at about 8 psi. The new lines are 50 psi, and they measured that. On the laterals, there is a small regulator just before the meter that drops the pressure to about 7 inches. They did not need to reduce the pressure setting or replace the regulators.

    I once saw an extremely large regulator. The diaphragm assembly must have been 30 or 36 inches in diameter. I do not know what the pressure was on either the supply or delivery side of that regulator, but it must have been a lot. The thing was screaming, and as far as I can tell, that was just how it normally sounded. The pipes going in and out were very large diameter, but I do not remember what they were. Could it have been thousands of psi?

    dont fall in to that trap, just because the regulator is large does not mean it handles high pressure. higher pressure means higher volumes therefore smaller may work. what you same probably handled a large volume of gas. and i doubt "thousands of psi" its rare mains are above a hundred psi. transmission lines, yes more but thousands, doubtful
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 8,374Member
    "The NTSB chief investigator on site said that it has been confirmed that this incident was caused by high pressure gas resulting in the explosions and fires that occurred. "

    Not surprised. But now the question is going to be... what happened? Over the years I've found that NTSB is pretty good at figuring that out -- but it's going to take time.
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • ch4manch4man Posts: 70Member
    yes I believe an over pressurization event happened.
    why? no one here knows. its all speculation at this point.
    NTSB takes years to confirm anything regarding root cause.
    we wont know for years
  • Jim_RJim_R Posts: 149Member
    Just this Spring my areas gas utility UGi , Penn called to say they were , or a contractor, was going to checking the " gas pipe's anode rods" ? condition.. A heads up that they may be lurking outside the house in the vicinity of the gas meter... And obviously I had no idea what they were talking about.. So they had to explain it to me.. It was something in over 40 years of living here that I didn't know that it was there and why .. to keep the house supply pipe from rusting..
    Came to mind when I was reading about the condition of the system before Human Error or whatever it is going to be called set in motion this disaster..
  • CanuckerCanucker Posts: 453Member
    I hope they go a lot deeper in the investigation than finding the direct cause, which most likely is human error. The root cause would be why that human made that error. I do a lot of investigation in my line of work and human error should almost never be the root cause and if you don't address root cause, the problem happens again
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 8,374Member
    Canucker said:

    I hope they go a lot deeper in the investigation than finding the direct cause, which most likely is human error. The root cause would be why that human made that error. I do a lot of investigation in my line of work and human error should almost never be the root cause and if you don't address root cause, the problem happens again

    Both the US NTSB and the Canadian TSB are pretty good at finding the root causes -- and they are almost never just one thing.
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
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