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Gas Pipeline Explodes in Alabama, Killing One

Posted By Arnold & Itkin || 1-Nov-2016

Between 2 and 3 pm on Monday, October 31st, a gas pipeline in Helena, AL exploded. The explosion sent a stream of ignited gasoline into the air, forming a column of flame between 100 and 300 feet tall, according to the fire chiefs on the scene. Reports vary, but the column of fire was confirmed.

The scene was chaotic enough that firefighters and emergency responders had a hard time determining if all workers were accounted for. It took two hours of searching and corroborating to confirm that everyone had been found and evacuated. Part of the issue was that workers on the scene were so distressed that they were unable to find clear answers regarding the whereabouts of their crew.

In the end, firefighters determined that a subcontractor was killed in the explosion, while at least 7 more were injured. As of this blog’s writing, four workers remain hospitalized while three have been released. The scene of the massive explosion was still on fire as of only a few hours ago.

Firefighters also determined that the incident was caused by a puncture (rather than a full rupture) of the pipe—however, the pipe was working at full-pressure at the time, making the puncture far more harmful than it might have been otherwise. In total, the pipeline expelled 168,000 gallons of gasoline.

The pipeline—which is owned by Colonial Pipeline—had contracted L.E. Bell Construction Co. to provide permanent repairs, as a leak had been discovered on September 9th. Colonial contracted through L.E. Bell many times before and knew their men to be well-trained and qualified.

In a rare show of emotion under these circumstances, Colonial’s incident commander Gerald Beck responded to a question about how he felt when he heard the pipeline had failed:

“We spend a lot of time, money, and effort to make sure [a disaster] never happens. So when you ask me what I felt…I felt bad. I still feel bad.”

Our hearts go out to the families of workers who were working on the scene, and we pray the four men remaining in the hospital recover quickly and completely.

Client's portion of total recovery may be subject to Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement claims, Medicare/Medicaid liens or other third-party claims or liens. These verdicts and settlements are intended to be representative of cases handled by Arnold & Itkin, LLP. These listings are not a guarantee or prediction of the outcome of any other claims.

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