Gas Leak at Chemical Units & Ways to Mitigate

- By Chaitra Poojary

A gas leak refers to a leak of natural gas, from a pipe or other containment, into a living area or any other area where it poses a threat to campus safety and security. Gas in its natural state is non-toxic and odorless. As a safety precaution, an odorant, which emits a ‘rotten egg’ smell and composed primarily of methane, unpleasant scents in the form of traces of mercaptans are usually added to ensure quick detection in case of a gas leak.

A gas leak can happen if the gas pipe is damaged by digging the pipeline accidentally or broken by someone unintentionally or if the fitting is loose. Gas leaks are very dangerous as small leak may gradually build up an explosive concentration of gas. In addition to causing fire and explosion hazards, leaks can kill vegetation, including large trees, and may release powerful greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

As a result of the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002, federal safety standards require companies providing natural gas to conduct safety inspections for gas leaks in chemical industry, houses and other buildings receiving natural gas. The gas company is required to inspect gas meters from the point of entry into the building to the outlet side of the gas meter for gas leaks. When a natural gas odour / leak are detected, take the following actions:


• Open the doors and the windows

• Cease all operations

• Do not switch the lights on or off, or operate other electrical equipment – switching electrical equipment can trigger an explosion

• Warn others in the immediate area

• Evacuate the immediate area unless

Mitigation Measures:

1. By improving monitoring technology and science - Mobile monitoring equipment and developing new scientific methods to translate the data gathered into actionable information should be taken into consideration.

2. Better data means better, safer systems - More precise and frequent data on the location and relative size of methane leaks will enable gas companies and regulators to better prioritize repairs and infrastructure improvements.

3. More Frequent or Rigorous Pipeline Inspections/Testing - Request operators to perform more frequent or more rigorous pipeline inspections and undertake improved testing to protect system integrity.

4. Replace Older Pipelines – It is important to replace old and rusted pipeline in the companies. Proper replacement schedule should be incorporated.

5. Pipeline Leak, Monitoring, Alarm Systems - Gas detection monitoring systems can be installed along the length of pipes near companies. These devices provide an emergency alarm notification should there be any escaping gas prior to ignition. This alarm should allow site occupants more time for evacuation and activation of other safety measures prior to an ignition.

Recent Incident:

On December 16, 2018 in Navi Mumbai, 31 monkeys and 14 pigeons were found dead due to gas leak from a nitric acid plant at Rasayani near Panvel. There are several such incidents related to gas leak that take place in our state frequently therefore it becomes important to take measures in order to prevent such accidents.

References: at-chemical-unit/articleshow/67111905.cms