Three powerful accidents in recent years highlight weaknesses in the oversight of how natural gas providers maintain the largest pipelines in their networks, accident investigators said Tuesday as they issued more than two dozen safety recommendations.
A major effort a decade ago by the federal government to check a rise in violent pipeline failures in "high-consequence" areas where people are more likely to be hurt or buildings destroyed has resulted in a slight leveling off of such incidents, but no decline, the National Transportation Safety Board said.
And while the frequency of such accidents remains low, they are still more likely to occur in more densely populated areas despite increased safety efforts in those areas, the report found.
More safety improvements are needed "to prevent catastrophic gas transmission line accidents from ever happening again," said Chris Hart, the acting NTSB chairman.
A steady increase in pipeline explosions and fires in the 10 years prior to 2003 prompted the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to adopt safety standards in 2004 for inspecting and maintaining the physical integrity of pipelines, with priority given to high consequence areas.Click here to read more.
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