Mon, Aug 04, 2014 - Page 3 News List

KAOHSIUNG DISASTER: Taipei government orders gas firms to inspect all city pipelines within a week

By Chiu Shao-wen, Lu Heng-chien and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

The Taipei City Government has ordered all four major natural gas companies operating in the city to inspect all of their pipelines within a week, following reports of two gas leaks in Zhongshan (中山) and Wanhua (萬華) districts that came on the heels of the gas explosions that devastated Greater Kaohsiung last week.

Residents of Wanhua’s Guoguang Community reportedly smelled leaking gas for five consecutive days last week. However, after calling the Great Taipei Gas Corp to complain, they were told: “Smelling a little gas will not hurt you.”

When the blasts rocked Greater Kaoshiung’s Cianjhen (前鎮) and Lingya (苓雅) districts on Thursday night and early Friday, killing at least 28 and injuring 286, the Guoguang residents became even more alarmed and telephoned the borough warden on Friday morning to demand a response.

“Is the city government going to wait until there are corpses before taking action?” one resident said.

In response, Great Taipei Gas engineer Chang Yung-chang (張永章) said the company had inspected the site of the reported leaks several days ago and found no cause for immediate danger, adding that the firm had sealed the leaks and plans to change the pipes today.

However, Taipei City Councilor Angela Ying (應曉薇) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lambasted the company as callous, saying it should have sent an emergency team to handle the matter the moment it received the complaints.

In a similar incident, the city police and fire departments also received reports of a suspected gas leak near No. 158 Songjiang Road at 9am on Friday. The gas company dug up the road to conduct an inspection and found minor leakage, though it declared the pipe to be in the green after carrying out some maintenance work.

Also on Friday, Taipei Deputy Mayor Chen Hsiung-wen (陳雄文) led an inspection of a gas storage unit in Neihu District (內湖) and said that the underground gas pipelines criss-crossing Taipei carried low-pressure gas and did not transport any chemical substances.

A disaster like the Greater Kaohsiung blasts would not occur in Taipei, Chen said, adding that the city’s major gas suppliers were being made to inspect all their pipelines within the week.

Greater Taipei Gas vice general manager Huang Chao-chi (黃朝枝) said during the Neihu inspection that the company has electronic surveillance systems in place that oversee the flow, volume and temperature of the gas at each pressure regulation station.

The systems alert the company immediately of any change in these factors so it can shut down the valves enabling gas distribution remotely to contain any potential damage, Huang said.

The company checks its high-pressure pipes once a month, its medium-pressure pipes once every six months and its low-pressure pipes once a year, Huang said, adding that it replaces them on a regular basis according to the amount of corrosion or rust they have incurred.

In related news, a gas leak was detected yesterday at a liquified petroleum gas fueling station in New Taipei City’s Sanchong District (三重), though officials said there were no safety concerns after emergency measures were implemented by the New Taipei City Fire Bureau and the station’s operator.

The leak was reported at about 5am by area residents who reported an unusual smell coming from the gas station operated by state-owned gasoline supplier CPC Corp, according to the fire bureau.

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