February 28, 2010

Odorization: simply a matter of safety

It has been almost seventy years since a tragic natural gas explosion occurred at a school building in New London, TX. This event opened the eyes of the community, the emerging natural gas industry, and the entire world.

Early in 1937, the New London school board, in order to save money, cancelled their natural gas contract. Instead, plumbers installed a tap into a residual gas line associated with oil production. This practice, while not explicitly authorized by local oil companies, was widespread in the area. The natural gas extracted with the oil was seen as a waste product and thus was flared off.

Natural gas, which is odorless and therefore undetectable to the human nose, had been leaking from the connection to the residual line. The gas had built up inside an enclosed crawlspace that ran the entire length of the school building. Students had been complaining of headaches for some time, but little attention was paid. 

For more go to Odorization: simply a matter of safety. (natural gas)(Brief article).  Pipeline & Gas Journal 233.11 (Nov 2006): p50(1).  http://www.oildompublishing.com/PGJ/pgjarchive/Nov06/Ordorization.pdf

February 20, 2010

The Origin of the Texas Engineering Practice Act

    As Chairman of the Board of Professional Engineers on the 70th anniversary of its creation, I wanted to find out more of the circumstances surrounding the Board's formation. I heard that a reunion and memorial service were to be held in New London, Texas, this year, honoring the survivors and remembering the loss of more than 300 students and teachers who died in the school explosion on March 18, 1937.

   This tragedy was the event that led to the Engineering Practice Act in Texas. I asked Executive Director Dale Beebe Farrow to join me in this commemoration. It was indeed an honor and an education for us to attend the memorial service and meet several of the survivors and others affected by the explosion. Each had a story to tell of the catastrophic event.  Read more:
Texas Board of Professional Engineers Newsletter, Summer, 2007, Pg. 2