Friday, April 13, 2012

Foolish Friday: Steam Pipe Break in St. Louis

Last week, this blog offered a post about a GAO investigation that determined the nation's awareness about potential hazards beneath our feet is not what it should be.  In that case, the report's focus was on collection pipes associated with the natural gas industry - mostly a rural issue.  Shortly after that piece was posted, there was a steam pipe rupture in downtown St. Louis which highlighted a different aspect of the problem - one that is mostly an urban issue.  Watch the 24 second video below:

Now read the article below from

Comment: One minute we have responders and media camera crews sightseeing and snapping photos, and the next we have HAZMAT crews in full regalia working through the Easter weekend to clean up the site from asbestos.  Although there is certain to be some degree of overstatement about the potential danger of an event like this by the media, I respectfully doubt anyone would have been strolling through the area the way these men did if they had any idea about what that steam pipe rupture potentially meant to them in terms of personal safety; that being exposure to asbestos.  Consequently, we have another example telling us situational awareness about the nation's underground infrastructure is not what it should be.  Indeed, even when we do know where things are - we don't necessarily know what that information means.  There is only one fix for this problem - visualization of infrastructure data through GIS! 

Lead photo credit: Talbot Brooks, corroding, underground pipeline spaghetti, Fulton St. in New York City, near South Street Seaport.

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