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Kansas pipeline eruption: Community fears toxic aftermath of pipeline explosion

Kansas suffers a massive pipeline eruption, toxic woes
Courtesy of Creative Commons, Flickr

A Kansas pipeline eruption has the community of Olpe worrying about the potential toxic aftermath of such a noxious blast. A wide area that housed trees, crops, and residential homes was said to be layered in a dark mist after a natural gas line exploded earlier this week. Local Kansas officials are working to determine whether the natural gas condensate might pose a health threat to people in the region, reports NewsMax this Tuesday, June 24, 2014.

Health authorities from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are working with Olpe pipeline employees to evaluate the damage done by a recent eruption. A natural gas pipeline bursting resulted in a high number of shrubbery and crops in the area wilting once a plume described as “dark, oily,” and “wet” coated them.

The heavy mist has been confirmed to be a natural gas condensate, which is a complex blend of hydrocarbons and natural gases. Once the Kansas pipeline erupted, residents in the area were saddened to see their soybeans shriveling and dying, while even trees that have stood for dozens of years began to wither away. Some homeowners contacted local police to report a foul smell in the air, while many seemed to have a palpable feeling of fear in the toxic aftermath. So although there was no fire resulting from this particular blast, that doesn't mean there aren't any associated risks.

According to ABC News’ inside report yesterday, the explosion occurred on Thursday afternoon while workers were completing routine repairs to a portion of the Panhandle Eastern pipeline. A number of citizens in Olpe said that they saw a massive cloud-like plume shoot into the sky, drizzling the area in a thick, oily mist. The black smoke put a literal damp on the horizon.

"I saw that smoke and thought 'what the hell is going on at the Panhandle?' It was all black coming out of there at 400-600 PSI," landowner Don Brown shared with a local newspaper. "It was going everywhere."

For those less savvy with the world of natural gases, natural gas condensate can be created and transferred in several different types of constitutes, but often includes a harmful carcinogen (or cancer-causing substance) called benzene. The US Environmental Protection Agency warns that any mass exposure to this carcinogen should be investigated. Even homes were said to be affected by the Kansas pipeline eruption this week.

"My mother-in-law's house is now a kind of gray color, and it was white before," said area resident Juanita Brown. "The trees and the grass are dying. There's guck all over my mother-in-law's house."

Agency crews are said to be working to verify if any toxic aftermath is cause for concern, and how the situation should be addressed. So far, no public warnings or evacuations have been cited, though health officials are still investigating the explosion that resulted in the noticeable dark plume of smoke. Emergency correction and cleaning efforts are also being prepared at this time.

"We're down today doing that, and we're making sure that the pipeline company is doing everything in their efforts to clean it up correctly," shared one spokeswoman. "It really won't harm people in the air, but if you got it on your skin, you can wash it off," she concluded.