New safety rules for US gas pipelines

US pipeline regulators are proposing new rules that will strengthen safety requirements for pipelines that carry natural gas.

The Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) aims to bulk up safety and inspection protocols for older lines and pipes buried under moderately populated areas where accidents could put lives at risk.

The proposal also seeks to raise standards for pipes that transport gas through rural areas and add requirements for pressure testing on older pipelines.

“It’s a critical rule—it updates pipelines safety regulations really looking at the safety of gas transmission and gas gathering lines,” PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez said in an interview with press. “We took a lot of lessons learned from some of the most significant incidents.”

The move to strengthen safety rules for the nation’s 300 000 mile network of natural gas transmission pipelines is a belated response to numerous accidents, including a 2010 California explosion that killed eight people and injured more than 50.

Other proposed rules would bring thousands of miles of natural gas pipes under additional scrutiny, including a vast network of smaller gas gathering lines that hook up directly to wells.

Complying with the proposed rules is set to cost the industry more than US$40 million a year but could prevent more than 40 pipeline incidents annually, according to PHMSA.

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