We talk about alternative fuels a lot here at Gas 2 (it’s kind of our thing), but with all the talk surrounding the dangers of fracking (earthquakes, poisoned dirt, and polluted groundwater, among them) we often forget that natural gas is seriously, Seriously volatile. Unfortunately, some 80 families and several acres of cornfield got a harsh reminder of natural gas’ more immediate dangers last night in the Western Illinois town of Erie, where residents heard a massive blast and saw flames rising more than 300 feet into the air.
The gas-fueled fireball was visible for more than 20 miles, and videographers over 3 miles from the cordoned-off area said “you can hear the roar of the pressure at this time.”
Despite the magnitude of the natural gas explosion and the damage done to roughly a square mile of cornfields (approx. 600 acres) and air-traffic reports that the fire was visible from the air more than 160 miles away in Pawnee. Still, there was no (reported) loss of life, and all but 2 of the families evacuated from the area are expected to be back home tonight. Yay!!
The gas pipeline that exploded last night is (was?) owned by Enterprise Products Partners, a Houston-based energy company that operates nearly 50,000 miles of natural gas, oil, and petrochemical pipeline throughout the country. Despite being one of the many oil and gas companies lobbying for more lax government regulation, a quick search shows that, in August of 2011, an EPP pipeline carrying leaked an unknown amount of the volatile liquid into the Missouri River in Iowa. So, yeah. There’s that.
You can watch the video and listen to the photographer’s police/emergency response scanner, below. While you’re doing so, try to remember that corn and sugar fields, windmills, and solar panels tend NOT to explode like this. Just sayin’.
Source: Climate Progress.