Gas explosion risk in our neighborhoods?

September 10, 2010 3:12:49 PM PDT
What happened in San Bruno, California, made us start thinking about our own neighborhoods and gas lines in the Houston area. Are we at the same risk? Sheree Anderson never thought much about the open field behind her home until now.

"I'm right here, and the pipelines are right at my backyard," she said. "The pipelines run directly behind my home. It's scary, really scary."

The pipeline that runs behind her home is one of the larger ones, with obvious signs. But pipelines come in a variety of sizes. The Texas Railroad Commission says the state has 254,000 miles of active pipelines. CenterPoint, which provides gas to homes in the Houston area, says people need to read any brochures that come in the mail.

"You need to sit down with that information, educate everybody," advised CenterPoint Operations Manager Jerry V. Gann. "You don't know who's going to smell that leak or recognize that pipeline incident and be able to get the family out and evacuate so you can call emergency responders and CenterPoint."

Although the railroad commission says accidents are rare, they have happened. In 2007, a house in Missouri City was obliterated by a gas explosion. The homeowner survived, but neighbors still remember the devastation.

Neighbor Connie Carlino recalled, "It happened so fast, I didn't know what it was, so I couldn't even be amazed, really."

Even if you don't see the gas lines, if you smell something, call authorities right away.

As for Anderson, she's hoping her backyard stays peaceful.

She said, "It could be us, and I have two kids here. It's scary. It's really scary."


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