Casey wary of feds’ oversight of pipelines in Pa.

Posted:  September 23

Matt Hughes

U.S. Sen. Robert P. Casey stated in a letter Wednesday to a federal agency that he has “grave concerns” about federal oversight of interstate pipelines criss-crossing Pennsylvania.

In his letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Administrator Cynthia Quarterman, Casey, D-Scranton, requests an assessment of the resources and programs in place for the inspection of the more than 7,500 miles of interstate pipelines in Pennsylvania. He also requests that the USDOT consider establishing a pipeline inspection training and certification center in the state.

“I have grave concerns that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has not allocated enough resources to inspect and maintain pipelines properly and does not have adequate training facilities,” Casey wrote.

Casey also referenced the Sept. 10 explosion of a California natural gas pipeline that killed seven and set a San Francisco suburb alight and the July oil pipeline spill that polluted two rivers near Kalamazoo, Mich., as reminders “of just how vulnerable our national system of gas and oil pipelines is and how critical the federal inspection of this system is to protecting American lives and property.”

Although he said he is most immediately concerned with safety, Casey also declares that any pipeline accident could have serious ramifications on the delivery of heating fuel to Pennsylvanians and on industry.

“A pipeline disruption would have severe and far-reaching impacts on local communities beyond the loss of life and property,” Casey wrote.

The senator requested that Quarterman provide him with an assessment of the adequacy of the administration’s staff and resources to inspect pipelines in the state, and, if such resources are inadequate, to provide an assessment of what additional resources are required. Casey also asks Quarterman to consider establishing a training and certification center in Pennsylvania, as, in his understanding, the nearest such center is located in Oklahoma City.

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration spokesman Damon Hill said Wednesday the administration had not yet officially received Casey’s letter and therefore could not comment.

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Copyright: The Times Leader