Deadly Gas Pipeline Explosion Prompts Tougher Regulations
After last week’s deadly explosion of a natural gas pipeline in San Bruno, Calif., the Obama administration proposed legislation Wednesday that would strengthen federal regulation of pipelines and increase fines for the most serious violations.
Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of a gas pipeline explosion that killed at least four people and left over fifty injured.
The gas pipeline, owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Co., ruptured on September 9th and set off a massive explosion that left a giant crater and destroyed dozens of homes overlooking San Francisco Bay.
If passed, the Obama bill would require operators of pipelines involved in accidents that cause deaths, injuries or very serious environmental harm to pay up to $2.5 million in fines, more than double the current $1 million maximum penalty.
The administration’s plan also calls for hiring 40 new safety inspectors that would analyze the pipeline condition, keep accurate maintenance histories, monitor pressure levels and put safeguards in place to prevent pressure from building up.
On Sunday a California state regulator ordered Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to check for leaks in all of its thousands of miles of natural gas pipelines, especially high-pressure pipelines in heavily populated areas like San Bruno.
According to SF Gate, “the move by state regulators came as some San Bruno residents expressed frustration over not knowing why the 30-inch-diameter pipeline, which was installed in 1948, exploded just yards from homes – and whether other similar pipelines might be a hazard. PG&E operates more than 5,700 miles of gas transmission lines.”
“In reality, there is a major pipeline incident every other day in this country. Luckily, most of them don’t happen in populated areas, but you still see too many failures to think something like this wasn’t going to happen sooner or later.”
Image Credit: Flickr - Rennett Stowe