Planning loophole explosion theory

THE gas leak and subsequent explosion at St Vincent’s Hospital that left a Goonellabah man in a serious condition may have been caused by haphazard planning common in country towns.

Engineer John McAlister was turning on the gas in the hospital’s boiler room last Thursday after a gas leak in a nearby street disrupted the hospital’s supply.

There was an explosion in which Mr McAlister received burns to 60 per cent of his body and is in a serious condition in the Royal Brisbane Hospital.

Investigations are under way to pinpoint what caused the explosion, with the company that owns the ruptured gas pipe, Elgas, highlighting a difference in country and metropolitan town planning as a possible factor for investigation.

“One thing all contractors should do is call Dial Before You Dig, and in country towns like Lismore they should go to council as things are different compared to metropolitan areas,” Elgas NSW technical manager Laurie Bombardiere said.

“There is a difference in how council puts the infrastructure in, and there is a lot more local knowledge in country towns.

“In country towns often the council is responsible for putting it (underground utilities) wherever it fits best.”

Mr Bombardiere said the gas pipe was mapped on plans that were usually supplied to contractors who called Dial Before You Dig, but could not confirm the plans were supplied to the contractors.

The Northern Star last week reported that one of the contractors who triggered the leak did contact Dial Before You Dig before commencing underground work and said ‘there wasn’t meant to be a gas pipe there’.

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Gas explosion at hospital



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