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An Explosive Reality

While you might not think of the Sunshine State as being a big consumer of natural gas, approximately 97 percent of Florida’s population is located in counties served by natural gas. In fact, Florida uses 894 billion cubic feet of natural gas annually, with roughly 85 percent attributed to the generation of electricity. Florida receives most of its natural gas from two pipeline companies -- Florida Gas Transmission, whose line runs across the Panhandle down to Miami-Dade County, and Gulfstream Natural Gas, whose line flows from Mobile Bay, Alabama, across the Gulf of Mexico, to Manatee County. In 2013, state regulators approved the construction of a third major natural gas pipeline that will increase Florida's capacity by 20 percent, at a cost of $3 billion.

Carried through a network of pipelines, natural gas is a fossil fuel largely comprised of methane. In large enough quantities, or if ignited, methane can be explosive. Leaks due to corroded pipes, excavation or extreme weather can result in death, serious injury or significant loss of property. In some instances, building fires that are caused by something other than the natural gas system subsequently damage gas equipment, which then triggers a leak and an explosion. In an effort to combat the corrosion problem, the use of plastic pipelines has begun, yet they can melt more easily than older iron or steel installations and thereby leak faster in so-called "fire-first" incidents.

Just last year, two inmates died and more than 180 people were hurt when a natural gas leak ignited at the Escambia County Central Booking and Detention facility in West Pensacola. The explosion was so powerful that the facility was destroyed, causing inmates to be relocated to other correctional locations and necessitating the building of a new facility. It is believed that flooding damage due to torrential rains contributed to the accident. In fact, the county's insurance carrier agreed to pay out $25 million in flood insurance on the building, but denied a $45 million all-perils claim. Earlier this month, a gas leak in the boiler room of a high rise condo in Sunny Isles Beach resulted in an explosion that injured four civilians and two firefighters. City building officials cited the owner after determining that the purging of the gas piping system was not performed according to code.

Gas failures can be the result of improper venting, defective gas connectors and control valves, leaking pipes, hoses and tanks, faulty installation and negligent maintenance. If you or a loved one has been fortunate enough to survive a gas explosion, you need to discuss your situation with a skilled injury attorney. At Stabinski & Funt, P.A., we have successfully represented victims throughout Florida and we have assisted families who have lost loved ones. In the event your property is damaged as a result of a natural gas explosion, we can help you deal with the ensuing insurance issues and potential problems that you may encounter. For over 45 years, we have been helping people put their lives back on track, and we are ready to help you. For advice on how to proceed next, or if you have any questions about this topic, call 305-643-3100 or fill out a free case evaluation form.

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