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New NFPA Standard to Prevent Gas Pipe Fires and Explosions


In response to the 2010 explosion at the under-construction Kleen Energy Power Plant in Middletown, Conn. that killed six workers and injured nearly 50 others and a subsequent investigation by the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB), the National Fire Protection Association has released NFPA 56 (PS), Standard for Fire and Explosion Prevention During Cleaning and Purging of Flammable Gas Piping Systems, 2012 Edition, which prohibits the use of flammable gas as a cleaning agent for cleaning the interior of pipes.

As part of the commissioning process for Kleen Energy Power Plant, highly pressurized natural gas was used to clean debris from the piping and was then discharged without controls into the atmosphere, causing the explosion.

NFPA 56 addresses not only the cleaning practice known as "gas blows" but also addresses a broad range of gas process activities, such as pipe cleaning, repair, replacement, and removal procedures conducted at power plants, and industrial, institutional, and commercial applications.

In addition to disallowing the use of flammable gas as a cleaning agent for interior pipes, NFPA 56 (PS) includes cleaning and purging of all flammable gas piping systems at any inlet pressure for electric-generating plants, industrial, commercial and institutional applications.

More information on NFPA 56 can be found at www.nfpa.org/56.

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