This morning’s natural gas pipeline explosion in Corpus Christi reportedly injured six people. Authorities continue to search for four unaccounted crew members of the involved dredger. Meanwhile, the wide-ranging health and safety effects of the incident remain unknown.
With emergency response efforts underway, authorities suggest there are no alleged health and safety threats to community members. Although first responders from the United States Coast Guard and Corpus Christi Fire Department closed roads and restricted nearby vessel passage, is there a possibility that additional health concerns may result?
Pipeline Risks to a Community
The risks that come with hazardous liquid pipelines will vary depending on the specific type of commodity and the characteristics of the area in question. For example, propane can present the short-term hazard of a possible fire or explosion. On the other hand, spills of crude oil can have various risks for the surrounding environment in both the short and long term. Crude oil spills can cause widespread harm to people in the area, fish and wildlife, and even drinking water supplies.
A pipeline explosion presents immense risks not just to those close enough to suffer injuries from the explosion, but also to any nearby communities for some time afterward.
Leaked fluids from the destroyed pipeline can contaminate soil and the environment around it, which can injure or kill people living nearby. Another problematic risk that comes with a pipeline explosion is the potential for water sources nearby to suffer contamination by the runoff of the broken pipeline.
The community around an exploded pipeline will feel the impacts of the event for years to come. The environment will also feel the impact of an oil or pipeline explosion for some time.
In addition to the environmental impacts of a spill, the potential economic impact of an oil spill upon a community, from property damage to a decrease in tourism, is substantial. The economic impact is a noteworthy risk a pipeline explosion poses to a community.
An explosion may render some businesses helpless and unable to continue operations. One example is fishermen who can no longer make a living if the pipeline explosion caused an oil spill that ruined the local fishing waters. Many tourism businesses might see a halt in revenue as people become wary of visiting an area right after a pipeline explosion.
Furthermore, the costs to clean up an oil spill on a community are vast, and without relief from the government, the costs are often too great for a community to handle on its own. In addition to seeking government funding for pipeline emergencies, affected parties and communities should call a lawyer to explore the oil and gas company’s liability for the explosion.
Three potential health considerations for those not directly involved
Water and air contamination are a concern for those who live near one of the numerous active oil and gas wells across the nation. Considering the dangerous properties of carbon monoxide released by explosive activity, one might wonder whether a fire of this magnitude could have adverse effects beyond those directly involved.
It is too soon to say when the pipeline will be repaired. Yet, there are multiple likely dangers associated with this incident. As gas leaks from the compromised pipeline, concerns may include:
- Respiratory illness triggered by cancer-causing air pollution
- Augmented global warming due to released methane
- Increased food toxicity linked to contaminated groundwater dispersed through crop irrigation systems
Agencies must work swiftly to contain emissions and minimize further hazards.
Meanwhile, if you begin to experience symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, nausea or breathing difficulties, seek medical attention. If your symptoms relate to the explosion, you can explore your options for seeking compensation.