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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation P-72-052
Details
Synopsis: On March 24, 1972, in the Annandale section of Fairfax County, VA, a contractor's backhoe snagged a 2-inch steel gas main, and pulled the main out of a compression coupling 22 feet away. Gas company personnel arrived on the scene about 40 minutes later and started to search for the break. The gas was not shut off and the nearby houses were not checked for the presence of gas. A house, 240 feet away from the point at which the line was snagged, exploded. Two other houses exploded and burned. As a result of the accident, three persons died and one was injured; two houses were destroyed and a third was badly damaged; and $153,000 worth of property was damaged.
Recommendation: TO THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION, THE OFFICE OF EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS, AND THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF STANDARDS: Initiate a research project, under their cooperative program, "Building Practices for Disaster Mitigation," to study the flow of natural gas through various basement wall materials and types of construction. This project should also include effective methods of sealing the space around underground utility lines where they enter a building. The effects of aging, settlement, and exposure to water should be considered.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Reconsidered
Mode: Pipeline
Location: Annandale, VA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: 80206
Accident Reports:
Washington Gas Light Company, Natural Gas Explosion
Report #: PAR-72-04
Accident Date: 3/24/1972
Issue Date: 11/22/1972
Date Closed: 7/3/1995
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: National Science Foundation (Closed - Reconsidered)
United States Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology (Closed - Reconsidered)
United States Department of Health and Human Servies, Office of Emergency Preparedness (Closed - Reconsidered)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: National Science Foundation
Date: 7/3/1995
Response: The National Transportation Safety Board is reviewing its files to identify those safety recommendations on which there has been no correspondence for an externded time. On February 2, 1973, the Safety Board issued Safety Recommendation P-72-52 to the National Science Foundation as a result of its accident investigation of the Washington Gas light Company natural gas explosion, in Annandale, Virginia, on March 24, 1972. Safety Recommendation P-72-52 urged the National Science Foundation, the National Bureau of Standards, and the Office of Emergency Preparedness to initiate a research project under their cooperative program, "Building Practices for Disaster Mitigation," to study the flow of natural gas through various basement wall materials and types of construction. This project should also include effective methods of sealing the space around underground utility lines where they enter a building. The effects of aging, settlement, and exposure to water should be considered. The Safety Board has learned through the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Federal Emergency Management Agency that such a study was never initiated because neither the U.S. Department of Transportation nor any other funding agency exhibited an interest in the project. Furthermore, the National Institute of Building Sciences has found from its industry, government, and public contacts that this project is not a priority for building and fire research. In addition, this issue has not been addressed in recent accidents. Therefore, the Safety Board has classified Safety Recommendation P-72-52 CLOSED—RECONSIDERED.

From: National Science Foundation
To: NTSB
Date: 4/7/1995
Response: National Institute of Standards and Technology: Since our last correspondence of 3/10/78, we have not been advised by the Department of Transportation, or any other potential funding agency, of interest in funding the study necessary to respond to the recommendation. In addition, we regularly contract with the National Institute of Building Sciences to obtain recommendations from industry, government and the general public for priorities for building and fire research.

From: National Science Foundation
To: NTSB
Date: 12/5/1977
Response: -From Jack T. Sanderson, Assistance Director for Research Applications: Your letter of November 2, 1977, addressed to Dr. Alfred J, Eggers, indicates that you had expected further correspondence concerning studies of the flow of natural gas through various basement wall materials and to study the sealing of entry points of gas pipes. Since the original correspondence took place, Dr. Eggers has left the National Science Foundation (NSF} and he is now with the Lockheed Aircraft Company, However, we have reviewed the original request from National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Dr. Eggers' reply to it. As Dr. Eggers indicated in his letter, NSF is not authorized to support development activity but can support applied research activities. The particular problem you have indicated, the flow of natural gas through basement walls, appears to require development activities for further improvement rather than basic or applied research. This might be most appropriate for a gas association or for gas companies to investigate or for a mission agency, such as yours, to support. We would consider research proposals more oriented toward gaining a better understanding of the process of gas diffusion or flow through material. We primarily depend upon unsolicited proposals to identify specific research problems and projects for potential support and we do not seem to have received research support requests in this particular research area in the past several years. We would, of course, consider such proposals in competition with other research proposals based upon their relative scientific merit.

From: NTSB
To: National Science Foundation
Date: 11/2/1977
Response: Our safety recommendation files show that our recommendation P-72-52 concerning the pipeline accident explosion at Annandale, Virginia, March 24, 1972, is open pending further correspondence with your organization. You stated in your response dated February 16, 1973, that our recommendation to study the now of natural gas through various basement wall materials and to study methods of sealing the entry point to a home 11ould be considered for research. As we have not had further correspondence from you, we would appreciate an update of your action on this recommendation to complete our file. Thank you for your cooperation.

From: National Science Foundation
To: NTSB
Date: 2/16/1973
Response: -From Alfred J. Eggers, Jr., Assistant Director for Research Applications: With your letter: of January 26, you transmitted to Dr. Stever a copy of the Pipeline Accident Report NTSB-PAR-72-4. Our: attention was called to the recommendation that the National Science Foundation, Office of Emergency Prepardness and the National Bureau of Standards Joint Federal Program "Building Practices for Disaster Mitigation" undertake studies on the flow of natural gases through basement walls and structural methods to seal such flows (recommendation P-72-52). I have referred the Board's recommendation to the Division of Advanced Technology Applications, where NSF's participation in the "Building Practices for Disaster Mitigation" program is coordinated. We will review the recommendation and will consider supporting research related to it. The Foundation is not authorized to support development activity, however. Should the Building Practices program or some related research effort add to its efforts the focus you request, I will certainly inform you. Thank you for forwarding the report and for your consideration of our Building Practices program.

From: NTSB
To: National Science Foundation
Date: 1/26/1973
Response: Enclosed is a copy of the National Transportation Safety Board's report of a natural gas pipeline accident which occurred in Annandale, Virginia, on March 24, 19720 In this accident three persons died, two houses were totally destroyed and a third badly damaged. We call your attention to the Safety Board's recommendations in general and specifically reco1nmendation No. 4, issued to prevent similar accident so the cooperation of the Bureau of Standards during the Board’s investigation is appreciated. This report will be released to the public on the date stamped on the cover. No public dissemination should be made prior to that date. The purpose of providing the report in advance of the public release date is to give you an opportunity to be acquainted ~·with its contents prior to release, so that you can be prepared to answer inquiries. The Board would appreciate any comments you may wish to make concerning this report.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Health and Human Servies, Office of Emergency Preparedness
Date: 7/3/1995
Response: The National Transportation Safety Board is reviewing its files to identify those safety recommendations on which there has been no correspondence for an extended time. On February 2, 1973, the Safety Board issued Safety Recommendation P-72-52 to the Office of Emergency Preparedness as a result of its accident investigation of the Washington Gas light Company natural gas explosion in Annandale, Virginia, on "March 24, 1972. Safety Recommendation P-72-52 urged the Office of Emergency Preparedness (now the Federal Emergency Management Agency), the National Science Foundation, and the National Bureau of Standards to initiate a research project, under their cooperative program, "Building Practices for Disaster Mitigation," to study the flow of natural gas through various basement wall materials and types of construction. This project should also include effective methods of sealing the space around underground utility lines where they enter a building. The effects of aging, settlement, and exposure to water should be considered. The Safety Board has learned through the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation, that such a study was never initiated because neither the U.S. Department of Transportation nor any other funding agency exhibited an interest in the project. Furthermore, the National Institute of Building Sciences has found from its industry, government, and public contacts that this project is not a priority for building and fire research. In addition, this issue has not been addressed in recent accidents. Therefore, the Safety Board has classified Safety Recommendation P-72-52 CLOSED—RECONSIDERED.

From: United States Department of Health and Human Servies, Office of Emergency Preparedness
To: NTSB
Date: 4/7/1995
Response: National Institute of Standards and Technology: Since our last correspondence of 3/10/78, we have not been advised by the Department of Transportation, or any other potential funding agency, of interest in funding the study necessary to respond to the recommendation. In addition, we regularly contract with the National Institute of Building Science to obtain recommendations from industry, government and general public for priorities for building and fire research.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Health and Human Servies, Office of Emergency Preparedness
Date: 11/2/1977
Response: Our safety recommendation files show that our recommendation P-72-52 concerning the pipeline accident explosion at Annandale, Virginia, March 24, 1972, is open pending further correspondence with your organization. You stated in your response dated February 16, 1973, that our recommendation to study the now of natural gas through various basement wall materials and to study methods of sealing the entry point to a home 11ould be considered for research. As we have not had further correspondence from you, we would appreciate an update of your action on this recommendation to complete our file. Thank you for your cooperation.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Health and Human Servies, Office of Emergency Preparedness
Date: 1/26/1973
Response: Enclosed is a copy of the National Transportation Safety Board's report of a natural gas pipeline accident which occurred in Annandale, Virginia, on March 24, 19720 In this accident three persons died, two houses were totally destroyed and a third badly damaged. We call your attention to the Safety Board's recommendations in general and specifically reco1nmendation No. 4, issued to prevent similar accident so the cooperation of the Bureau of Standards during the Board’s investigation is appreciated. This report will be released to the public on the date stamped on the cover. No public dissemination should be made prior to that date. The purpose of providing the report in advance of the public release date is to give you an opportunity to be acquainted ~·with its contents prior to release, so that you can be prepared to answer inquiries. The Board would appreciate any comments you may wish to make concerning this report.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Date: 7/3/1995
Response: Thank you for your March 13, 1995, letter responding to Safety Recommendation P-72-52 which was issued as a result of the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation of the pipeline explosion in Annandale, Virginia, on March 24, 1972. Safety Recommendation P-72-52 urged the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology), the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Emergency Preparedness to initiate a research project under their cooperative program, "Building Practices for Disaster Mitigation," to study the flow of natural gas through various basement wall materials and types of construction. This project should also include effective methods of sealing the space around underground utility lines where they enter a building. The effects of aging, settlement, and exposure to water should be considered. You note in your letter that such a study was never initiated because neither the U.S. Department of Transportation nor any other funding agency exhibited an interest in the project. Furthermore, the National Institute of Building Sciences has found from its industry, government, and public contacts that this project is not a priority for building and fire research. In addition, this issue has not been addressed in recent accidents. Therefore, the Safety Board has classified Safety Recommendation P-72-52 CLOSED—RECONSIDERED.

From: United States Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology
To: NTSB
Date: 3/13/1995
Response: -From Richard N. Wright, Director, Building and Fire Research Laboratory: This is in response to the reminder from your office on March 8, 1995, that the subject recommendation remains open in your files. Since our last correspondence of March 10, 1978, we have not been advised by the Department of Transportation, or any other potential funding agency, of interest in funding the study necessary to respond to the recommendation. In addition, we regularly contract with the National Institute of Building Sciences to obtain recommendations from industry, government and the general public for priorities for building and fire research. The topic of the recommendation has not been identified in these studies. Therefore, I suggest that your file be closed with the notation that no appropriate organization has been able to fund the study required to respond to the recommendation.

From: United States Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology
To: NTSB
Date: 3/10/1978
Response: -From Richard N. Wright, Director, Center for Building Technology, National Engineering Laboratory: This is in response to your inquiry of November 2, 1977 about research to alleviate hazards associated with gas leakage into buildings. Funding for research in the NSF/NBS cooperative program on Building Practices for Disaster Mitigation has been focused on earthquake safety practices. We would appreciate the opportunity to meet with your staff to determine whether, after this elapse of time, the problem appears sufficiently significant to justify funding the solution efforts by an agency with a mission in this area of safety. If your investigations continue to show substantial hazards from gas leakage into buildings, we will be happy to work with you and other agencies to establish technical bases for appropriate remedial measures. Our contact for your staff will be Dr. Preston E. McNall, Chief, Building Thermal and Service Systems Division.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Date: 11/2/1977
Response: Our safety recommendation files show that our recommendation P-72-52 concerning the pipeline accident explosion at Annandale, Virginia, March 24, 1972, is open pending further correspondence with your organization. You stated 1n your response dated March 1, 1973, that our recommendation to study the flow of natural gas through various basement wall materials and to study methods of sealing the entry point to a home would be considered for research. As we have not had further correspondence from you, we would appreciate an update of your action on this recommendation to complete our file. Thank you for your cooperation.

From: United States Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology
To: NTSB
Date: 3/1/1973
Response: -From Richard N. Wright, Deputy Director-Technical Center for Building Technology: Thank you for your letter of January 26, 1973, to Dr. Lawrence Kushner enclosing a copy of the National Transportation Safety Board's report on the natural gas explosions at Annandale, Virginia. We were very happy to have the opportunity of assisting you in the investigation of this accident. We feel that research and development activities aimed at reducing the incidences of such accidents are an important part of building technology. We have noted your request in recommendation No. 4 that our cooperative program on "Building Practices for Disaster Mitigation" undertake the study of the flow of natural gas through various basement wall materials and types of construction, and that this project should also include development of effective methods of sealing the space around underground utilities lines where they enter a building. This recommendation will be brought to the attention of the multi-agency policy committee of the cooperative Federal program. I am sure that they will make a strong effort to obtain funding for such studies.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Date: 1/26/1973
Response: Enclosed is a copy of the National Transportation Safety Board's report of a natural gas pipeline accident which occurred in Annandale, Virginia, on March 24, 19720 In this accident three persons died, two houses were totally destroyed and a third badly damaged. We call your attention to the Safety Board's recommendations in general and specifically reco1nmendation No. 4, issued to prevent similar accident so the cooperation of the Bureau of Standards during the Board’s investigation is appreciated. This report will be released to the public on the date stamped on the cover. No public dissemination should be made prior to that date. The purpose of providing the report in advance of the public release date is to give you an opportunity to be acquainted ~·with its contents prior to release, so that you can be prepared to answer inquiries. The Board would appreciate any comments you may wish to make concerning this report.