Aug 15, 2011: Markey: We Must Fully Implement Pipeline Safety Recos to Prevent Future Disasters
“Given the potential risk that pipeline accidents pose to human lives and the environment, it is essential that NTSB recommendations growing out of prior investigations into pipeline safety accidents are promptly implemented in order to prevent similar accidents from recurring,” wrote Rep. Markey, top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee and a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in the letter.
A copy of the letter to PHMSA can be found HERE.
“It is unacceptable that ‘unacceptable response’ is the final result to pipeline accidents that resulted in the loss of lives, homes and livelihoods,” said Rep. Markey in separate comments. “We must ensure that all pipeline safety recommendations are fully implemented in a satisfactory and timely manner.”
In the letter, Rep. asks PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman to respond to questions that include:
- For the recipient of an NTSB safety recommendation that did not respond in a satisfactory manner to the proposed safety recommendations, what actions have been taken by PHMSA to ensure or enforce operator compliance, and what process does PHMSA to guarantee conformity with NTSB safety recommendations?
- Given that many of the safety concerns raised by cases classified with “unacceptable action” remain unaddressed, has PHMSA considered reopening any of these cases or otherwise pushing for the implementation of the recommendations in question?
- Has PHMSA conducted any internal reviews of the closed cases in which an unsatisfactory action was taken or in which the addressee gave no response?
- Has PHMSA reviewed its regulations concerning the minimum burial depth for pipelines crossing rivers?
- Are there any penalties for pipeline operators who fail to comply with some or all of the steps called for in the advisory bulletin issued in July to prevent and mitigate damage to pipeline facilities and ensure public and environmental safety in areas affected by flooding?
In July, Rep. Markey and the Democratic staff of the House Natural Resources Committee released a summary of major pipeline incidents from the last two years. This recent history of spills, explosions, environmental damage and loss of life and property demonstrates the need for a comprehensive review of pipeline safety.