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What is Running Underneath Your Street?

Updated on May 4, 2017
grand old lady profile image

Mona writes a column for Enrich Magazine which is distributed in five countries. She is interested in learning as she writes.

My column, Home Safety First, Enrich Magazine
My column, Home Safety First, Enrich Magazine | Source

In July, 2014, a series of explosions set off 50 ft. high fires, that ripped through the streets of Cianjen and Linga, in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, that country’s second most highly populated city.

The fires occurred near midnight and resulted in some 27 deaths, with 286 wounded and two missing. The cause of the fire was a gas leak in the pipes under the ground of the roadsides according to the Wall Street Journal.

The blasts also left 23,600 homes without gas, 7,536 homes without power, and 8,000 homes without water in the immediate aftermath of the explosions, Bloomberg reported.

US gas pipe accidents

Similar accidents have occurred in the US. Since 2002, seven people died and 27 were wounded in New York State because of natural gas pipelines. In 2010, some 10 people died in San Bruno, California when a gas pipeline exploded.

In 2012, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a gas pipeline that would travel from Linden, New Jersey to Manhattan. Folks in Staten Island and Jersey City expressed concern that the pipelines may pass through their areas to reach Manhattan, The New York World reported.

My picture and bio as a columnist with Enrich Magazine
My picture and bio as a columnist with Enrich Magazine | Source

Traumatized in Taiwan

We were in Taiwan a few days after the gas explosions occurred. We were guests of the Tzu Chi Foundation, an international humanitarian group that is based in Taiwan and has branches in 47 countries. Its humanitarian aid has reached 80 countries.

Tzu Chi volunteers were among the first responders after the Kaohsiung blasts. We were told that the day after the explosions, people were afraid of any sound, including that of their own doorbells.

Tzu Chi volunteers who distributed goods in the area spoke of one family that wouldn’t open the door until it had been rung many times. When they opened the door, they told the volunteers that they were terrified by the doorbell, because of the loudness of the blasts the night before.

Another Kaohsiung resident told the volunteers that he was a war veteran, but he was still terrified by the blasts. As he spoke a loud thunderclap occurred, and the man clung to the arm of a volunteer tightly, from sheer fear.

Ironically, the family that was least traumatized by the explosions was a deaf couple, because they didn’t hear the explosions. However, they sensed something was going on. When they opened the door, they were surprised to see fire leaping out from under the curb of their street.

Sometimes, less is more. In the Philippines most homes use gas tanks which are safer. However, there have been explosions caused by natural gas in a Makati mall and a ritzy condominium building at Fort Bonifacio. There are also plans to structure natural gas pipelines all over the country.

Gas Explosion. Kaohsiung, Taiwan 08/01/2014 - Video Compilation

Issue where my column came out
Issue where my column came out | Source

Cause of Kaohsiung Explosions

The explosions in Kaohsiung can actually be blamed, in a way, on economic progress. The gas lines were approved in 1990, at a time when there were few homes in the area.

Presently, Kaohsiung is a major petrochemical hub. It is also a port city with a lot of factories that from 1990 onwards, needed a lot of employees. As people moved into Kaohsiung for jobs, more houses were built, many of them on streets with gas lines running under them. The city’s current population is 2.8 million, according to Forbes.

Usually, gas pipelines keep a safe distance from residences, especially where there is a big population. Such is the situation in most of Taiwan. Kaohsiung’s city officials are now working on ways to resolve the issue of homes that stand above gas pipelines.

Is Your Home Safe?

Normally, gas explosions caused by pipelines are blamed on gas pipe leaks, issues of maintenance or a gas firm that may have accidentally overloaded the gas line. If you get gas in your home and don't use a gas tank, you might want to check a map of the gas pipelines in your area.

Fear not. If a new gas pipeline is coming to your area, you and your neighbors will have plenty of notice if you are in the US. This was the case in Southeast Brooklyn recently for a planned transmission line to Jamaica Bay. Such disclosure is required by law. After construction however, neither the city nor the province informs the homeowners on a regular basis about whether they live near a transmission line.

Property owners may also learn about a line's existence when undertaking excavation work: Under state law contractors must inform the state about any intent to perform heavy construction activities so utility companies can flag any gas lines underneath.

In the Philippines, any house or condominium unit that uses gas pipelines must have a gas meter installed, so that you can be sure that the level of gas going through your unit is safe. If it goes beyond safety levels, that's the time to go outside the house and alert the desk if you live in a condominium, the village association if you live in a gated village, or the gas company. Safety is of prime importance so monitor your gas levels regularly. If you think the monitor may be flawed, you can even add a second gas monitor to your house or condominium. The safest option, however, is to use a gas tank. If you live in a house with the windows open, you can lose all the gas in your tank without incurring any fire, because your house, even if it is just medium sized, will not keep the gas in a tight location and in this way will do you no harm.


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    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 23 months ago from Philippines

      Wow, okay:). Better sooner than later.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 23 months ago from San Diego California

      1988 was the last time. When I go I'll let you know. Thanks for the offer.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 23 months ago from Philippines

      Dear Mel,

      When you got to the river throwing I was dying of laughter. I'm so thankful for knowing you through Hub Pages and if you visit the Philippines again (when were you last here?) you absolutely must email me beforehand. Thankfully, that is doable through Hub Pages.

      Warm regards,


    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 23 months ago from San Diego California

      Maybe your book needs different eyes to judge it, Mona. Authors tend to be their own worst critics. The little I read here had me hooked. I would love to revisit the Philippines, but there won't be any river throwing. Good luck on all your future ventures.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 23 months ago from Philippines

      Hi Mel, I just read your article and was laughing all over it, it was a precious gem of commentary that had spontaneity and honesty and a bit of flabbergast over the movies you were describing. Your writing is precious. I had finished the book Five Hearts but it was really bad, and the first two chapters on Hub Pages are improvements on a bad book. Thank you for always reminding me. When it comes to fiction, I lack courage to write it, much less publish it, and yet I want so badly to write a book. Between You and Mr. Billybuc, I think I will learn to be brave. Either that, or you two will have to go to the philippines and threaten to throw me into the very polluted pasig river if I don't finish it, hahahah. Very grateful to you.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 23 months ago from San Diego California

      I seem to recall many years ago there were horrible subterranean explosions in Guadalajara, Mexico, but I think these were the result of naturally occurring methane, though I could be wrong. By the way, have you published your Five Hearts book yet? I was really enjoying that story, and looked forward to reading more chapters. Great hub!

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 23 months ago from Philippines

      Hi Ms Dora, how wonderful to hear from you again. I love the fact that when it's hub pages, the whole gang comes together. It's like my online home:). Yes, what happened was dangerous, I would be so scared if it happened in my neighborhood.

      Hello DDE!!!!! So excited to hear from you. Yes, it is a scary event, and we are all very lucky not to have gone through something like this. Gas on the road is no fun, whatsoever.

      Hello Mr. Billybuc, thank you for stopping by and reading. You do have this natural grace that I keep repeating it must sound like a broken record. Your concern for the people of Taiwan speaks of your kind heart. God bless:)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 23 months ago from The Caribbean

      Congratulations, Mona, on your recent publication. This article presents information as well as warning which everyone should heed. Thank you.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 23 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Thanks for writing about your experience and what a scary thought!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 23 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Well that is certainly scary! My goodness, my heart goes out to the people in that area.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 23 months ago from Philippines

      Hi Eric,

      I was in Taiwan when the explosions happened, but not in the exact area. You could see how sad people were about the news.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      It sounds a little scary. I think I will look into the lines around my home.