MEXICO CITY--Gas Plant Blast Inflames Neighborsgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
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GAS PLANT BLAST INFLAMES NEIGHBORS
By JOHN HECHT The News Staff Reporter March 14, 2000
Residents in a northern Mexico City neighborhood on Monday blocked two main avenues to demand city officials permanently close a gas plant where a Sunday explosion nearly sent their community up in flames.
The Energy Secretariat said the privately owned plant will remain closed until federal investigators determine the cause of the explosion in the San Lorenzo Tlaltenango colonia. The Mexico City Attorney General's Office also launched an investigation into the incident.
On Sunday morning, more than 150 firefighters battled 90-foot flames at the distribution plant. After three hours, firefighters contained the blaze that left one fireman injured. Seven gas lines at a distribution plant caught fire and sparked a series of explosions. Firefighters said each gas pipeline had a 2,600-gallon capacity.
Regio Gas issued a statement saying the blast was not caused by a pipe explosion but by a high-pressure release from emergency blowout valves.
Residents took to the streets after observing gas distribution trucks entering the plant despite its apparent closure.
Protesters said the explosion brought back haunting memories from the past when another privately-owned gas plant erupted, leaving more than 500 people dead in San Juan Ixhuatepec, the State of Mexico. Thousands more were injured in the November, 1984 explosion. Investigations said a gas leak sparked the 1984 fire that swept the facilities and spread to surrounding homes, causing many household propane tanks to burst.
Had it not been for the fire department's swift response last Sunday, many neighbors feared they could have seen a repeat of the 1984 tragedy.
Neighbors interviewed by TV Azteca demanded Regio Gas close or move its facilities to a less populated area.
"It's very risky for all of us who have to live here," said one resident who wished to remain anonymous. "It's time they relocate. They should operate in areas that aren't so densely populated."
But Regio Gas said the plant was built 40 years ago when the area was primarily an industrial zone. The private company said they have tried to negotiate with neighbors but their offers to purchase their land have been met by homeowners' unreasonable selling prices. In many cases, Regio Gas said it finds itself negotiating with neighbors that are not legal homeowners.
-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), March 14, 2000