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Worker Killed in Texas Gas Pipeline Explosion

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The safety of natural gas drilling is being called into question again, following yesterday’s pipeline explosion in Cleburne, Texas. The blast, which involved a large transmission pipeline used to transport natural gas long distances, killed one worker on a crew that had been igging to replace power-line poles.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Cleburne, in rural Johnson County, is in an area of Texas that has experienced a boom in natural gas drilling in recent years. It was the third gas-related explosion in the U.S. within four days, the Journal said. One incident, a well blow out in Pennsylvania on June 3, caused state officials to call a temporary halt to drilling by EOG Resources Inc. The second occurred at a well in West Virginia on Sunday night, injuring seven workers.

Natural gas drilling has been linked to water contamination in Louisiana and Pennsylvania, and in Cleburne, a series of small earthquakes was even tied to the drilling.

The Cleburne explosion occurred around 3:00 p.m. local time. A witness told The Wall Street Journal that the blast shook his house, and that the heat from the ensuing fire was intense. The fire was extinguished around 4:45 p.m.

Investigators from several agencies, including Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are investigating the incident. Among other things, investigators are trying to determine if the gas line had been marked before digging started.

In addition to the one fatality, eight other utility workers sustained injuries.

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