The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has established a new technical committee, NFPA 56, to develop a comprehensive standard for gas processing safety, including the cleaning of fuel gas piping systems.

The NFPA acted in response to an urgent recommendation issued by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) following a catastrophic natural gas explosion at Kleen Energy, a power plant under construction in Middletown, Conn., on February 7, 2010. In that incident, workers were conducting a "gas blow," a procedure that forced natural gas at high volume and pressure through newly installed piping to remove debris. The gas was vented to the atmosphere, where it accumulated and exploded, killing six contract workers and injuring many others.

“On October 29, the NFPA Standards Council announced it would establish a new technical committee to develop a gas processing safety standard. This goes beyond the CSB’s original recommendation, which urged an amendment to NFPA’s National Fuel Gas Code,” says Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso, chairperson of the CSB.

The NFPA Standards Council will review the proposed startup roster and any proposed committee and standard scopes at its March 2011 meeting.