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Folks heard and felt the explosion this past February at the Kleen Energy Systems plant in Middletown, CT miles away.
This accident occurred during gas system purging and claimed five lives. It injured 27 workers.
“It’s time the industry understood the unique design and safety requirements for working with and purging natural gas piping,” said John Puskar, a principal with CEC Combustion Safety Inc.
“Gas piping design, operation, and safety require a very specialized level of expertise.
Recent events graphically illustrate the inherent hazards of improperly designed natural gas piping that is commissioned in a poorly planned and haphazard manner. Beyond the obvious risk of death and injury, explosions on the scale of the Kleen Energy Systems plant in Connecticut can cause extreme property damage worth hundreds of millions of dollars, cause significant lost production time, and irreversibly damage a company’s reputation,” Puskar said.
CEC Combustion Safety Inc. has much experience in the inspection and testing of fuel trains. They encounter many of the same piping issues and hazards repeatedly.
See the most common hazards involved in conducting natural gas piping installation and repairs along with insights on how to avoid them.
An interesting question arises when determining the responsibility for safety. In the most recent disasters, Puskar said, very experienced people were conducting the work. Nevertheless, in the heat of battle, they overlooked safety issues. There are multiple stresses and pressures on a construction site. That’s why proper planning and commitment to safety from the top down is necessary to provide the focus that makes the difference between success and failure.
“When the responsibility for safe natural gas pipe purging is everyone’s responsibility, then it’s no one’s responsibility,” Puskar said.
– Nicholas Sheble
You can email Nicholas Sheble at

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