NTSB to probe U.S. oil and gas networks

Feb. 28, 2011 at 8:41 AM
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SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Safety rules for oil and gas pipelines in California could change after a federal panel investigates aging U.S. infrastructure, a California lawmaker said.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board kick off three days of hearings Tuesday on oil and natural gas pipeline safety. The public inquiry is the first since 2000 and comes more than six months after a gas explosion in San Bruno, Calif.

Pacific Gas and Electric is under fire for the September gas explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.

"What I'll be looking at carefully is recommendations that we can pursue in California as regulations to create a safer gas transmission system," Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, whose district includes parts of San Bruno, was quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle as saying.

PG&E spokesman Joe Molica told the newspaper the hearing was "vital" for the industry and NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said the hearings were more than about just the San Bruno disaster.

Most of the pipelines in the country, she said, are at least 30 years old.

U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., introduced a bill in early February that calls for more oversight to increase the safety of oil and gas pipelines.

More than 40 pipeline accidents were reported in the United States since 2006.

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