The Other Pipe Bombs? US’ Ancient Gas Infrastructure Keeps Killing People

A series of linked explosions around the US have killed and injured dozens this year, but without a politically convenient antagonist behind them, they’ve garnered few headlines. It’s not a terrorist who’s stalking an unsuspecting US population ‒ it’s the country’s decrepit gas infrastructure and the toothless safety regimen governing it.

US natural gas infrastructure is painfully old, under-regulated and under-inspected, and the nation’s growing appetite for natural gas is pushing the aging network to the limit. Utility companies exploit this vulnerability to dodge necessary safety rules, costing lives.

Dozens have been killed or injured in the United States by natural gas explosions this year. The most infamous was that in the Merrimack Valley north of Boston on September 23, which killed one, injured dozens and destroyed more than 100 buildings. Nine more people were hurt in an October 15 explosion in Chesapeake, Virginia; another nine were injured in an explosion in August in Denver, Colorado; 10 campers in New Mexico perished in a fountain of flame that same month when a gas line hundreds of yards away exploded.

While some cases can be passed off as human error, such as contractor carelessness, aging infrastructure in the US and a lack of adequately enforced — or sometimes even existent — safety regulations are often to blame for such disasters.

In 2009, the US passed Russia to become the world’s top producer of hydrocarbons….

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