img 2611 Lindbergh reopened in Sunset Hills after explosion scare

Lindbergh Boulevard was closed between West Watson and East Watson in Sunset Hills for more than 12 hours starting late Thursday night due to concerns about a possible explosion at a storm-damaged medical center. The road was reopened around 11 am Friday after stored helium at the SSM Imaging Center was safely vented. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

SUNSET HILLS, Mo. (KMOX) –  Lindbergh Boulevard between West Watson and East Watson in Sunset Hills was reopened for traffic shortly after 11 am Friday.

It had been closed for more than twelve hours after officials determined late Thursday that there was a less than 1% chance of an explosion at the storm-damaged SSM Imaging Center, with a potential blast radius of 100-meters (330-feet) in any direction.

That meant several homeowners who had found themselves in the path of the New Year’s Eve storm had to evacuate their homes.

The problem centered on the venting of helium from an MRI scanner at the now-closed SSM Imaging Center.

Helium in its liquid state is stable and inert, but the storm knocked out electricity to the building and thus the refrigeration units for the helium.

There was a concern that as the stored helium warmed up and began converting to a gaseous state, it would expand and increase pressure on the storage tanks, possibly resulting in an explosion.

After determining that there was indeed damage to a ventilation pipe atop the building, technicians worked to correct the problem and then conducted a successful test venting of the stored helium.

It was then determined that the danger of an explosion had passed and Lindbergh was reopened to traffic.

(Copyright KMOX Radio)

Comments (4)
  1. Keith says:

    Helium isn’t explosive. It’s inert in any state. Remember you’re high school chemistry?

    Did the storage tanks not have pressure relief valves for this very reason? Were the storage not designed for the possible overpressure ? Why not?

    So far, it sound like tremendous overreaction.

    1. mark says:

      I agree, especially since if it was liquid Helium, it would have to be stored in a Dewar container which by code had to have a pressure relief valve to deal with any overpressure conditions – venting would only be a concern if the vented helium displaced the air in a closed area (not likely since helium is has a lower density than air which is mostly nitrogen).

    2. N. C. says:

      According to the next-to-last paragraph, the ventilation pipe was *damaged* and needed repair before the helium could be vented. Otherwise, there was the possibility, however slim, of an explosive release of pressure. Hence the use of the word “explosion” I imagine.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

More From CBS St. Louis

Download The App

Listen Live