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PORTSIDE  August 2011, Week 2

PORTSIDE August 2011, Week 2

Subject:

Feds Say Major New York Gas Pipeline Poses Safety Risk

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Date:

Mon, 8 Aug 2011 00:45:12 -0400

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Feds Say Major New York Gas Pipeline Poses Safety Risk
by Nicholas Kusnetz
ProPublica
August 5, 201
http://www.propublica.org/article/feds-say-major-new-york-gas-pipeline-poses-safety-risk

A major natural gas pipeline stretching across southern
New York may be at risk of rupturing and poses a safety
threat, according to a recent inspection by federal
regulators.

The pipeline's owner, Millennium Pipeline Co., has
reduced pressure on the line, lessening the risk of
explosion, but there are concerns that its problems may
extend beyond a leak spotted by workers in January.

The leak resulted from a faulty weld that hadn't passed
an inspection but was installed anyway, a review by the
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
found. An order issued by the agency

-first reported Wednesday by NaturalGasWatch.org, a
website that tracks gas pipeline safety-said other
sections of the pipeline also appear to have been
installed without proper evaluation.

"Other welds with similar defects may also develop leaks
and potentially lead to a rupture of the pipeline," the
order says.

Damon Hill, a spokesman for the safety administration,
said the pipeline's operator, Columbia Gas Transmission,
has until the end of the year to inspect the line and
fix problems.

Theresa Gibbon, a spokeswoman for Millennium Pipeline
Co., confirmed the company is working with federal
regulators but would not specify what measures it is
taking.

The Millennium pipeline cuts through New York's southern
tier and is a potential end point of a number of
proposed pipelines carrying gas from Pennsylvania's
Marcellus Shale. It passes through several towns along
its route.

Richard Kuprewicz, a pipeline safety expert and
consultant, said an explosion on the line could be
significantly larger than the one that killed eight
people in San Bruno, Calif., in September because the
Millennium operates at more than double the pressure,
even after the recent reduction.

The San Bruno blast was the most deadly in a series of
high-profile oil and gas pipeline accidents that have
drawn attention to a lax regulatory system. A December
investigation by the news organization Remapping Debate
found that regulation of more than 2 million miles of
natural gas pipelines across the country is largely left
to the companies that operate the lines. One recent
report showed that these companies have funded and
shaped most of the safety studies that guide federal
regulation.

The number of major accidents has more or less held
steady in recent years. Still, Carl Weimer, executive
director of Pipeline Safety Trust, an advocacy group,
said the problems with the Millennium line, along with
some of the recent accidents, raise questions about
whether the regulatory system is breaking down.

"As we allow the companies to do their own inspection
and their own engineering to decide how to deal with
pipelines in the ground, the question arises, do they
have enough information," he said. "This is another case
where it seems like, oops, they messed up."

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