Kaohsiung WRB checking culverts in blast area
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-08-05 03:09 PM
Investigators from the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office checking the neighborhood where a gas leak caused multiple explosions Thursday have discovered that a pipeline belonging to LCY Chemical is located inside a rainwater drainage culvert on Er-sheng Road which was built by the municipal water district. Because of its location the line may have been exposed to acidic rainwater and other effluents over a long period of time. The Kaohsiung Water Resources Bureau (WRB) says such pipelines should never be located in a storm drain culvert and the WRB is unable to find evidence of the pipes’ existence in any of its maps. The bureau is working to determine who laid down the pipelines and when they were placed underground.

WRB Director Secretary Lee Hsien-yi said the drainage culvert on Kaixuan Road was placed underground at some time prior to 1976 and has been maintained by the Kaohsiung City Government since it was upgraded by the central government.

WRB staff working along with prosecutors uncovered two other culvert lines running from the nearby Taiwan Railway maintenance to the culvert beside Kaixuan Road. One of the culverts was closed off; but the other culvert, which has been in use to carry away runoff water, is penetrated by a line used to transmit propylene by LCY Chemical. About 3 or 4 meters of the pipeline hang suspended in the culvert, which also carries water from the storm drain system as well as a number of other lines, some of which are leaking liquids into the culvert. Investigators speculate that propylene from a leak in the pipeline here could have followed the culvert under Kaixuan Road to other areas hit by explosions.

"This is a standard WRB culvert, it definitely should not have any pipelines running through it," says Lee. He adds that because many years that have passed, current master drawings do not show the two box culverts on Er-sheng Road, and the WRB and other agencies are looking through older records to seek more information that might indicate whether the culverts or the petrochemical pipelines were laid down first in the neighborhood.

A spokesperson for the WRB notes that box culverts are used purely to carry away rainwater and other incidental effluents, and the bureau conducts regular maintenance to control siltation and other problems. Some of the culverts are very old and may not follow the lines shown on current bureau maps. When the bureau finds pipelines that are located inside a culvert it asks the owners of the pipelines to re-locate them and there should have been no pipelines at all in box culverts in the area where the explosions occurred.

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