U.S. posts record year for pipeline safety

Jan. 25, 2013 at 9:18 AM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- A U.S. pipeline regulator said a high number of enforcement orders last year was a reflection of "rigorous investigations and inspections" of safety procedures.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued 116 enforcement orders to pipeline operators last year, its second highest yearly total.

PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman said the orders, four fewer than the record set in 2011, were signs of the agency's commitment to pipeline safety.

"These enforcement numbers are a direct result of improved internal tracking procedures and rigorous investigations and inspections of pipeline facilities by PHMSA field personnel," she said in a statement.

The 116 enforcement orders issued last year resulted in more than $8.7 million in proposed fines. Those include a civil penalty for pipeline company Enbridge for a crude oil pipeline incident in 2010 in southern Michigan.

Quarterman's statement follows a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office recommending PHMSA take issues like response times and data collection more seriously.

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