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Fuel Pipeline Explodes Beneath Iowa Corn Field

A fuel pipeline explosion is always a serious incident. Each one is a reminder of our nation’s need to move quickly to replace, repair and upgrade our vast underground infrastructure of pipelines. Moreover, they are often accompanied by catastrophic loss of life and/or property. It is fortunate, then, that the only damage caused by the most recent explosion was to a field of corn.

On a recent Monday at about 11:15 p.m., an underground pipeline carrying a mixture of propane and ethane exploded in a cornfield in Whiteside County in western Illinois. The flames shot hundreds of feet into the sky, and a 15-foot crater was left in the ground, but no injuries were reported. Dozens of nearby residents had to evacuate their homes as a safety precaution. The flames were visible for miles, and the sound was like a jet engine, according to eyewitnesses.

The pipeline’s owner, Enterprise Products Partners, said it was too soon to know what caused the blast, but the company was investigating the accident along with the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Just a few months ago, a pipeline exploded in a Louisiana neighborhood, destroying a mobile home. That home was empty, and nearby residents escaped injury as well. Victims of pipeline explosions are not always so lucky. In 2010, eight people perished in an explosion in San Bruno, Calif. Pipeline operators and governments at all levels need to work together to make U.S. pipelines as safe as they can be before another disaster happens.

Posted on Sunday, September 29th, 2013. Filed under Catastrophic Injury, Industrial Fires, Wrongful Death.