Businessman: We could have prevented blast
Local firm's mapping capabilities could help find pipelines, he says
A Grand Junction company’s state-of-the-art mix of land records, geographic information system data, and on-the-ground observations could have prevented the explosion that killed two men in Firestone last month, said the head of ProStar GeoCorp.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered inspections of miles of natural gas pipelines across the state to prevent an explosion like the April 17 blast that was blamed on a 1-inch pipeline that had been cut.
Nobody actually knows where all those lines are, said Page Tucker, chief executive officer of ProStar Geocorp.
In many cases, the information about their location is buried deep in historical records, which might not reflect their exact location, assuming the records still exist at all, Tucker said.
“A lot of infrastructure was put into the ground before 1960 and you’ve now got subdivisions, houses and lawns and roads built on the top of gas lines,” Tucker said.
Plans, designs and drawings “could be off six feet, or 60 feet,” he said.
ProStar GeoCorp’s Transparent Earth aims to provide more precise locations for pipelines, and site inspections could have detected the leaking pipeline that allowed natural gas to escape and find its way into the home where the men were working on a water heater.
The use of geospatial intelligence, as Tucker terms it, can locate pipelines not only in terms of their general location, but also their depth.
“Close enough is no longer good enough,” Tucker said. “Those lines should be mapped to inches, not to several feet.”
ProStar GeoCorp is discussing how its technology might be used by the state’s 811 system, which individuals can call for information about buried pipelines when they are planning to dig.
It also is in discussions with the city of Grand Junction about how to use the company’s technology to identify and locate pipelines throughout the city.