Engineering Ethics: The East Ohio Gas Company Explosion (Video On Demand)

Course Number: ET-2032
Credit: 2 PDH
Subject Matter Expert: Mary McElroy, P.E.
Type: Video on Demand - video is streamed directly to your computer.
Price: $59.90 Purchase using Reward Tokens. Details
This Video on Demand course is a recording of a live webinar that was held by PDHengineer. As a recording of a live event, you will hear the discussion that occurred between the instructor and those who attended this webinar.

In Engineering Ethics: The East Ohio Gas Company Explosion, you'll learn ...

  • Events leading up to the tragic explosion in Cleveland, Ohio on Oct. 20, 1944
  • What motivated tank designers to make a 4th LNG tank different from the previous three tanks
  • The importance of correctly specifying and testing the mechanical properties of metals
  • Numerous changes in natural gas processing and storage that occurred as a direct result of this incident


PDHengineer Course Preview

Preview a portion of the video before you purchase it.

Credit: 2 PDH

It is considered by many to be one of the top ten worst engineering disasters of all time. In 1944, a gas leak, tank explosion and resulting fire from one of the liquefied natural gas storage tanks in the East Ohio Gas Company’s 10-acre facility killed 130 people and destroyed at least one square mile of homes, businesses and property on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio. The extent of damage was significantly increased because of gas leakage into the local sewer system. As the gas mixture flowed and mixed with air and sewer gas, the mix ignited. In the ensuing explosion, manhole covers launched skyward as jets of fire erupted from depths of the sewer lines. One manhole cover was found several miles away from the facility.

This disaster, which occurred at approximately 2:30 pm on Friday, October 20th, 1944, could have been avoided. Because of the high demand for energy from the community, the East Ohio Gas Company had opted to construct a natural gas liquefication-regasification facility. Unfortunately, that facility was located adjacent to a congested residential neighborhood comprised mainly of immigrants of Slovenian origin.

Deemed the #2 Works, the plant originally consisted of three spherical above ground storage liquefied natural gas storage tanks. Those tanks were completed in January, 1941, at the beginning of the United States’ involvement in World War II. Because of the commercial success of the plant, a fourth storage tank was proposed for construction. The tank designer and fabricator, Pittsburgh-Des Moines Company, recommended a larger capacity cylindrically shaped tank using an alternate type of insulation. Due to wartime restrictions on raw materials and steel alloys, this tank would cost less to fabricate and insulate. Based on these recommendations, the East Ohio Gas Company contracted for the fabrication and construction of a cylindrical tank for LNG Storage Tank #4. The design modifications along with other factors significantly contributed to the ensuing tragedy.

In this course, we will discuss the ethics on the part of the professionals involved in the design and construction of the East Ohio Gas Company liquefication-regasification facility.

Special Note: Course ET-2020W, ET-2024, and ET-2032 are alternate presentations of the same course material. Therefore, only one version, either the course or webinar, can be taken during a renewal cycle. If you have any questions regarding course eligibility, please contact our Customer Service Team.

Specific Knowledge or Skill Obtained

This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • Location of a potentially dangerous facility adjacent to a heavily populated area
  • How profitability led to the modifications in the design of Storage Tank #4 (increase in size and modification of tank configuration)
  • How wartime economies led to the modifications in the materials utilized in the construction of Storage Tank #4
  • Warning signs that were overlooked or ignored by employees of the East Ohio Gas Company and the tank fabricator, Pittsburgh-Des Moines Company
  • Impacts of the tragedy on the local community and resultant financial settlements
  • Problems with the tank revealed during a court case
  • Lessons learned from the disaster and long-term impacts on the engineering community
  • How engineers assigned to the project failed to comply with the NSPE’s #1 Canon, which ethically requires engineers to place public safety and welfare above all else

Video on Demand

This course is a recorded version of a live lecture and will be streamed directly to your computer's media player. Our format is generally compatible with media players included with all computers and mobile devices. After watching the video presentation, you will return to your PDHengineer log in account to take the online quiz. While this is a recording of a live presentation, please note that this recording will not qualify as a "live" or "interactive" continuing education activity in those states where it is required.

Certificate of Completion

You will be able to immediately print a certificate of completion after passing a multiple-choice quiz consisting of 10 questions. PDH credits are not awarded until the course is completed and quiz is passed.

Board Acceptance
This course is applicable to professional engineers in:
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PDHengineer Course Preview

Preview a portion of the video before you purchase it.

Credit: 2 PDH

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