United States officials are taking action to strengthen safety regulations governing a 300,000-mile network of natural gas pipelines after a number of explosive accidents, including a San Bruno, California explosion that injured 50 people and killed eight more six years ago.
The proposal by the Department of Transportation would expand inspection and repair rules to include newly installed lines in growing gas drilling fields and lines in some rural areas. Pressure-testing for leaks would be a requirement for older, previously exempt gas likes, such as the 1956 pipeline responsible for the San Bruno disaster in 2010.
For the first time, 11,000 miles of gathering lines would be brought under federal regulation as the nation’s unprecedented demand for natural gas continues to grow and strain infrastructure. The new rules would extend pressure testing to include lines built prior to 1970, a long-recommended step by the National Transportation Safety Board.
However, the government is sidestepping action on emergency shutoff valves that can automatically shut down ruptured gas lines. While safety regulators have urged that they be made mandatory due to their many potential benefits, the gas industry has resisted because of their potentially high cost.
According to an administrator for the Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, some companies have already begun testing their lines voluntarily. However, there have been another 7,400 miles of pipe identified that have never been evaluated for potential safety issues.
Over the past two decades there have been more than 2,000 reported accidents on gas transmission lines across the United States, resulting in 181 injuries, 46 deaths, and approximately $1.8 billion in damages. These changes are expected to drastically improve safety and reduce the number of incidents related to the transmission of natural gas.
For more information on your rights after a natural gas explosion, please contact the Law Office of Daniel D. Horowitz, III PC.