According to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, more than 50% of American households use natural gas as their main source of heating energy. Some homeowners use natural gas because it is readily available while others do so because they live in properties that already have gas distribution infrastructure. However, natural gas has inherent safety risks every consumer should know about. In Reading, PA, neighbors on Monday, in the 800 block of Nicolls Street, were given quite a scare when a gas line was struck and they had to quickly evacuate their homes.
This incident was caused by a minor traffic accident, as described in the WFMZ 69 News article below:
“One of my guys said he ran out to the side of the building, and saw that the meter was knocked off,” said Scott Maurer, owner of M-Tech. “Apparently, some guy that was working in front of the building backed up into it and broke it off.” source: WFMZ
Gas Leaks That Could Cause Explosions
Gas leaks can cause explosions that could injure or kill people living in residential/commercial buildings. A leaking gas line generates a rotten egg odor. Gas distribution companies in the US routinely warn householders to report instances of such odors immediately. If gas continues to leak inside an enclosed space or underground, an explosion can occur the moment someone turns on/off an electrical appliance or ignites an open flame. In fact, the city of New York has experienced deadly explosions linked to leaking gas lines in the first quarters of 2014 and 2015.
The problem with natural gas lines is it is almost impossible to find and fix all leaks. A study carried by researchers from Boston University and Duke University found 5,893 leaks in Washington, D.C., alone. In some of the sites where leaks were identified during this study, methane concentrations were as high as 500,000 parts per million. Of course, a gas leak is a potential safety and health hazard.
In Reading, PA, neighbors where legitimately concerned with the potential for an explosion as indicated here; “Yeah, because I thought something would spark and this whole block would have blown,” said Tarina Reppert, neighbor. “It was that bad. It was that loud and that bad.” and further in the WFMZ report, “Well, obviously, if it’s gas, and a spark ignites, we got issues,” said Maurer. “So, yeah, good thing we reacted quickly and got out of there.”
According to the American Energy Coalition, 95% of natural gas is methane. A report published by the National Geographic states that methane is a heat-trapping gas that is 34 times more efficient than carbon dioxide over a period of 100 years. This makes methane a major cause of global warming.
Heating Oil vs. Gas: Oil is Safer
Unlike natural gas, heating oil does not ignite easily. It would have to reach a temperature of 140 degrees and vaporize to ignite. In fact, a burning match dropped into heating oil will extinguish. In addition, heating oil is cheaper than natural gas. Compared to heating oil, natural gas has remained more expensive for most of the last 22 years, according to figures published by the US Energy Information Administration. This state of affairs is unlikely to change much in the near future given the large quantities of reserves the US has built over the years. Furthermore, the US is no longer reliant on energy from the volatile Middle East region.
Another aspect that makes heating oil safer than natural gas is its environmental cleanness. More specifically, heating oil produces almost zero greenhouse gases and this makes it many times safer than methane-rich natural gas. This has made heating oil one of the few energy sources not regulated by the Federal Clean Air Act. At the same time, players in the heating oil industry are carrying out research on low sulfur oil blends they can mix with biofuels to create an even more environmentally cleaner source of energy. Finally, since much of the world’s natural gas sources and reserves lie outside the US in areas such as Russia and the Middle East, it is susceptible to adulteration by unfriendly nations.
Although many people in the US use natural gas to heat their homes, they put themselves and others at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and explosions that could cause serious injuries or fatalities. The good news is you can choose much cheaper and environmentally friendly heating oil.
Fortunately, households and businesses that use heating oil as a fuel source do not have some of these frightening concerns. Regardless of whether or not consumers use oil or gas as their fuel source, all households and business are affected by a gas leak such as this one. Click here, to find a local fuel oil delivery company in your area.