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January 16, 2012

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Blast fears for old gas pipes

GROWING numbers of construction projects beneath Shanghai's streets are increasing the danger of gas leaks and explosions in hundreds of kilometers of aging pipes, experts have warned.

Around 2,000 gas leaks have occurred annually over the past few years, Wang Qifen, a deputy general manager of city gas supplier Shanghai Gas Group, said over the weekend.

Some pipelines have been in service for 140 years and are especially vulnerable, said Wang, also an engineer.

She urged the authorities to increase funding and organize repair schemes as underground projects - such as Metro expansion - continue apace.

Wang also pointed out that 338 gas pipes are buried beneath major roads in the heavily populated area inside the Inner Ring Road.

She said these should be properly reinforced to protect the pipes during underground urban development.

Xu Liping, director of the Shanghai Geotechnical Investigations and Design Institute, echoed Wang's concern.

She said the city needs to control the speed of further underground construction work, due to growing risks.

Xu urged the authorities to introduce more advanced technology before continuing to develop further underground space on a large scale.


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