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Posted on July 24, 2012 by

Home Gas Explosions – A $15 Valve Could Save Your Life

According to the AP, home gas explosions could be less dangerous or even possibly prevented with the installation of a $15 valve that cuts off leaking gas.

Yet nearly 90 percent of the nation’s gas service lines aren’t fitted with the valves. Despite persistent government recommendations, the gas industry has argued that they are unreliable and cost too much to install.  In the meantime, the accidents continue.

“There were lives lost that did not need to be lost,” said Robert Hall, deputy director of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is responsible for investigating pipeline accidents.

The NTSB recommended the valves 16 times, but only in 2009, under pressure from Congress, was a rule approved – to make the devices mandatory only on lines leading to new, single-family homes. Now, regulators are considering expanding that to new or replaced pipelines serving millions of multifamily homes and commercial buildings. And the utilities are objecting.

The valves are designed to trip automatically when there is a break in a service line, the narrow-diameter pipes that serve individual homes and businesses. A sudden rush of escaping gas pushes a small, spring-loaded stopper inside the valve, plugging the line.

Without them, gas can leak unchecked into a building or house, pooling until an ignition source – turning on the stove, a pilot light in the water heater, even an electrical spark from a cellphone – triggers an explosion or fire.

The most complete government records, covering 2004 to the present, showed 187 accidents that potentially could have been avoided or mitigated, according to the AP’s review.

There are more than 66 million natural gas service lines in the U.S., but only about one in 10 had excess flow valves, according to the government’s most recent data. Almost 46 million new service lines have been installed since 1970 – about 39 million without excess flow valves. That’s about 39 million “missed opportunities,” as Hall put it.

If you or someone you know has suffered a serious injury because of a defective product/design or the negligence of an individual or company, call us at (866)298-1020 today the experienced St. Louis gas explosion attorneys at Hoffman & Gelfman  for a free consultation.