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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Safety

Safety

A pipeline odorant injection station
A minute amount of odorant which will contain t-butyl mercaptan, with an odor that is associated with natural gas, and has been described as a rotten egg odor, is added to the otherwise colorless and almost odorless gas used by consumers, to assist in detecting leaks before a fire or explosion occurs. Sometimes a related compound, thiophane may be used in the mixture, with a rotten-egg smell. Adding odorant to natural gas began in the United States after the 1937 New London School explosion. The buildup of gas in the school went unnoticed, killing three hundred students and faculty when it ignited. Odorants are considered non-toxic in the extremely low concentrations occurring in natural gas delivered to the end user.
In mines, where methane seeping from rock formations has no odor, sensors are used, and mining apparatuses have been specifically developed to avoid ignition sources such as the Davy lamp.
Explosions caused by natural gas leaks occur a few times each year. Individual homes, small businesses and other structures are most frequently affected when an internal leak builds up gas inside the structure. Frequently, the blast will be enough to significantly damage a building but leave it standing. In these cases, the people inside tend to have minor to moderate injuries. Occasionally, the gas can collect in high enough quantities to cause a deadly explosion, disintegrating one or more buildings in the process. The gas usually dissipates readily outdoors, but can sometimes collect in dangerous quantities if flow rates are high enough. However, considering the tens of millions of structures that use the fuel, the individual risk of using natural gas is very low.
Some gas fields yield sour gas containing hydrogen sulfide (H2S). This untreated gas is toxic. Amine gas treating, an industrial scale process which removes acidic gaseous components, is often used to remove hydrogen sulfide from natural gas.[42]

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