Friday, September 17, 2010

Pipeline regulatory agency says it has a plan to improve pipeline safety

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Transportation said on Sept. 15 that it will propose pipeline safety legislation and strengthen its own rules following recent crude spills and California's deadly natural gas explosion.
"The Department's legislative proposal will complement its additional planned regulatory initiatives to continue to improve pipeline safety," said John Porcari, deputy secretary of transportation.
"The department intends to take significant action to reassess its pipeline safety regulations to expand and strengthen them, as needed," he said.
The calls to improve pipeline safety follow a deadly natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Calif., on a natural gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. In addition, Canada's Enbridge had two serious recent accidents on pipelines bringing crude oil into the U.S. Midwest.
Ray LaHood, secretary of the Transportation Department, on Sept. 15 presented the plan to Congress that DOT hopes will close up regulatory gaps and strengthen enforcement. The measure would include:
• Increasing the maximum administrative civil penalties for the most serious types of violations from $100,000 per day/$1 million for a series of violations to $250,000 per day/$2.5 million for a series of violations.
• Adding 40 inspectors and enforcement personnel over four years.

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