Safer gas mains, new jobs across the country with DOT funding boost

On January 7, 1951, two workmen died from severe burns that resulted from welding on a crude oil pipeline at a Kansas City oil Terminal. A nearby valve failed, and sprayed them with crude oil that ignited.

A decade later, a 30-inch diameter gas transmission line failed and caused gas to flow for 10 minutes before exploding and igniting. An 8-inch gas distribution pipeline also ruptured. Eleven (11) homes were destroyed, and 23 others were damaged. At least one person was injured.

On December 15, 1977, a compression coupling joint between a plastic and a steel gas line pulled apart in nearby Lawrence, Kansas. The gas entered two buildings in the area before exploding, killing two people, and injuring three others.

Even as recently as two days ago, a gas pipeline exploded & burned in Estill County, Kentucky. Flames were reported to stretch more 1,000 feet into the air. Authorities evacuated residents up to a mile away.

There have been at least 573 accidents in different parts of the country since 1895 when a newspaper reported a series of explosions that took place after a Pennsylvania woman entered her basement with a portable lantern to investigate the smell of gas. The explosion injured the woman and damaged four homes. Gas had leaked after being diverted into an older, defective gas main in the area.

These are just some of the accidents that may be easier to prevent once a new federal bill is implemented.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) received a funding boost to enhance safety and security along the oil and gas pipelines across the country, while adding new job opportunities for local communities located along potentially dangerous pipeline routes in heavily populated areas.

According to Ray LaHood, the US Secretary of Transportation, the House and Senate passed a pipeline safety bill that puts more teeth into enforcement tools at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) disposal .

The bill doubles maximum fines for pipeline operators facing safety violations for not meeting safety standards. Under this bill, there are additional requirements to install automatic or remote-controlled shut-off valves and excess flow valves in new or replaced transmission pipelines.

The bill also authorizes grant money for safety improvements, additional safety inspectors, training for emergency response and damage prevention programs, community technical assistance grants, and on-call system improvements.

Local agencies would do well to quickly take advantage of these job training and employment opportunities to make the nation safer for all.


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