Exposed Natural Gas Meter Causes Fatal Explosion


Natural Gas ExpertThis case involves a gas mater placed by a natural gas company in the parking lot of a hospital in Maine. The gas meter was not protected with any sort of bollard. During an emergency, an ambulance carrying a critically injured patient and 4 emergency medical personnel jumped the curb and rammed into the gas meter. The impact caused an explosion. That killed the driver of the ambulance and the patient. An expert in natural gas was sought to address the industry standards for proper placement and protection of gas meters in order to avoid accidents such as this.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please briefly describe your experience in the gas industry and specifically your role in ensuring the safety of gas infrastructure.
  • 2. Have you ever recommend the placement of bollards or other barriers near gas meters due to the risk of an incident like this?

Expert Witness Response E-012036

I formerly served as the Bureau Chief of pipeline safety for a northeast state. During my tenure, I had regulatory authority to require natural gas pipeline and utility companies to adhere to the prescribed federal and state gas pipeline safety regulations and industry practices. This involved appropriate training in the areas of pipeline design, construction, maintenance, inspection, record retention and accident investigations. My responsibilities also included pipeline safety regulation development and review. I routinely conducted inspections of company facilities and documents with my engineering staff to verify the level of safety compliance. The placement of protective structures (such as bollards or other barriers near natural gas meters) was frequently addressed during my tenure. Similar accidents, such as the one in this case, occurred in the state and prompted the study and recommendation of actions needed to be taken by natural gas utility companies to prevent damage to gas meters by vehicles. I have served as an expert witness for matters involving protection of natural gas facilities. One of my roles was to investigate accidents involving natural gas facilities including gas meters with the goal of determining the cause of the accident, the parties responsible, violations, and steps to minimize or prevent repeat incidents. It was also my responsibility to work with technical regulatory staff, natural gas utility experts, and legal staff to review all safety matters and recommend new or modified safety regulations.

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