CSB Chair Applauds Council's Action on 'Gas Blows'

Changes have been made in the International Fire Code and the International Fuel Gas Code to prohibit these. Six workers died four years ago in the Kleen Energy power plant explosion in Middletown, Conn., because of one.

The chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso, is applauding the International Code Council's decision to revise the International Fire Code and the International Fuel Gas Code to prohibit the practice known as a "gas blow," where natural gas is vented in order to clean the gas line. Six workers died four years ago during the construction of a Kleen Energy power plant explosion in Middletown, Conn., because of one.

"All of us at the CSB were pleased to learn that the 2015 International Fire and Fuel Gas Codes prohibit the conduct of 'gas blows,' an inherently unsafe pipe cleaning methodology. We commend the ICC for this tremendous step forward," Moure-Eraso said in a statement posted on CSB's website.

The ICC action aligns with a prohibition developed by the National Fire Protection Association, which did so upon a CSB recommendation.

CSB concluded that using flammable gas to clean piping is inherently unsafe and that safe methods, such as blowing with compressed air, are efficient and readily available.

"ICC's actions reflect an important shift in industry good practice," he said, noting that the 2015 IFC and IFGC as likely to acquire the force of regulation in coming years as state and local jurisdictions adopt them. "The strong actions by both ICC and NFPA on fuel gas safety blaze a trail for regulatory action by OSHA on this topic," Moure-Eraso added.

CSB has recommended that OSHA develop a fuel gas standard, but the agency has not acted upon it.

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