Sat, Aug 09, 2014 - Page 1 News List

New leak sparks Kaohsiung evacuation

PIPE PURGING?Residents near Kaisyuan Third Road were moved to schools as officials sought to contain a leak of what was thought to be methane from a purging job

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Members of an emergency response team try to find the source of a gas leak in Greater Kaohsiung yesterday.

Photo: CNA

With Greater Kaohsiung residents still recovering from the damage caused by the gas pipeline explosions last week, another gas leak was reported in Cianjhen District (前鎮) yesterday morning, stirring widespread panic among residents as authorities tried to pin down the source of the escaping gas.

The Kaohsiung City Environmental Protection Bureau said the leak involved methane.

The leak was reported shortly before 7:50am, at which time the bureau dispatched personnel to the intersection of Yisin and Kaisyuan roads after receiving word of “the smell of gas pervading the air.”

Residents living within a 150m radius of Kaisyuan Third Road were evacuated by the city’s police department to Kaohsiung Municipal Guanghua Junior High School and Le Chyuan Elementary School.

The incident has once again raised grave concern among residents over their safety.

“A week has passed since the explosions. When will we be safe?” a motorist asked.

Kaohsiung City Environmental Protection Bureau Director-General Derek Chen (陳金德) said that gas concentration levels measured at 7:50am were 100 parts per million (ppm), indicating that a gas leak had taken place.

The leak might be due to a purging of pipelines that LCY Chemical Corp (李長榮化工) commenced at 6am yesterday to drive out any remaining propene, the gas that caused the pipeline explosions last week, Chen said.

“By about 8:20am, readings had shot up to 3,000ppm and the bureau ordered LCY Chemical to immediately halt the purging,” he added.

“However, bubbles kept emerging from the rainwater-flooded trenches [left by the blasts] and the concentration level kept rising. At about 11am the readings had reached 5,000ppm. The situation was very critical,” Chen said.

“The situation persisted into the afternoon and at about 2:30pm, the concentration level finally dropped to below 10ppm,” he said, adding that the crisis had been defused.

Citing an analysis of sampled gases, Chen said the gas that leaked yesterday morning was predominantly methane.

Early measurements taken by the bureau showed that at least four gases were leaked, including methane, propene, ethylene and butane.

The bureau last night issued an announcement that it would continue to monitor gas concentration levels at the site to ensure residents’ safety.

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