US Takes Steps to Improve Pipeline Safety : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Saturday November 4 12:27 PM ET U.S. Takes Steps to Improve Pipeline Safety

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) has unveiled measures to improve safety of pipelines carrying oil and gas through heavily populated and environmentally sensitive areas in the wake of a recent accident that killed a dozen people.

Operators of more than 500 miles of pipelines that transport hazardous liquids through populated areas, environmentally sensitive areas and waterways used to transport important goods and supplies will now have to conduct initial tests within seven years.

Additionally, the operators will have to test the pipelines periodically, likely every five years, using internal inspection, pressure testing or other equivalent testing technology, according to the new regulations.

The steps follow the deaths in August of 12 people in a New Mexico desert who were camping near a natural gas pipeline that exploded. The incident occurred near where the pipeline emerged from underground to cross the Pecos River in the southeast part of the state.

``As the system expands to meet our growing energy needs, we must employ all reasonable means to ensure that the people and environments near pipelines are better protected,'' Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater said in a statement.

The operators will also have to make their plans for assessing and addressing risks that can lead to pipeline failures available for the government to review.

In a year, the DOT said it along with state agencies will review programs for operator integrity management that address corrosion, outside force, human errors and material defects.

President Clinton (news - web sites) on Friday ordered the DOT to develop and begin implementing a plan by Jan. 15 to improve safety standards for hazardous liquid and natural gas pipelines as well as issue final rules within 30 days that define an environmentally sensitive area.

Clinton also asked the agency to boost enforcement of pipeline safety laws and regulations, determine whether it had the sufficient tools to do so and improve public access to information as well as enhance federal-state partnerships.

``These actions will help ensure that our pipeline system is sound, our communities are safe and our environment is protected,'' he said in a statement.

-- Rachel Gibson (, November 04, 2000

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