Monday, July 23, 2012

AP IMPACT: Gas line safety valves resisted

Gas line safety valves resisted

thumbnailThe bulldozer was clearing land outside a day care center in Hapeville, Ga., when it broke open a buried 1-inch pipeline. The escaping gas ignited into a fireball that killed nine people, including seven children settling down for their afternoon naps. That was 1968. Since then, there have been at least 270 similar accidents across the country that could have been prevented or made less dangerous ...

"There were lives lost that did not need to be lost," said Robert Hall, deputy director of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is responsible for investigating pipeline accidents.

The NTSB recommended the valves 16 times, but only in 2009, under pressure from Congress, was a rule approved - to make the devices mandatory only on lines leading to new, single-family homes. Now, regulators are considering expanding that to new or replaced pipelines serving millions of multifamily homes and commercial buildings. And the utilities are objecting.

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