Selected tag(s): PHMSA

Aliso Canyon Disaster One Year Later: Some Progress, But More Action Needed

When the gusher of methane pouring out of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field was discovered last October 23, it almost instantly transformed the sleepy Los Angeles suburb of Porter Ranch into the site of one of the biggest environmental disasters in recent history. It would ultimately take four months to stop the massive leak. According to a new report released today, it pumped nearly 100,000 tons of methane into the atmosphere.

Now, a year later, the question: What’s been done to fix the problem, and to prevent future blowouts – either at Aliso Canyon, or the 400 similar facilities in more than 30 states? The answer is, while there’s been some progress, it’s not nearly enough.

Read More »

Posted in Aliso Canyon, California, Climate, Energy Storage, Methane, Natural Gas| Also tagged | Comments are closed

New Technologies Deliver Data That Can Make Gas Pipelines Safer

By Virginia Palacios and Holly Pearen

Plastic pipeline being placed in a trench

Plastic pipeline being placed in a trench.

The tragic 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion served as proof of how a small pipeline leak combined with human error can cause a devastating disaster.  This has led the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to propose new regulations for gas pipelines across the country in order to prevent another major pipeline catastrophe.

At the same time, utilities are beginning to adopt advanced technologies and methods that provide better data to experts —  helping to prevent accidents that threaten public health and safety.  If PHMSA requires operators to use these emerging leak detection technologies and quantification and analytical methods, we could see improved utility safety programs and a decline in incidents related to human error. Read More »

Posted in Data Access, Natural Gas| Also tagged , | Comments are closed

Smart Policies to Stop Disastrous Natural Gas Leaks

rp_AlisoCanyon4-300x209-1-300x209-300x209.jpg

Infrared footage reveals massive methane emissions from a gas storage facility in California's Aliso Canyon

Last fall, a massive leak from a natural gas storage facility in California’s Aliso Canyon released nearly 100,000 tons of methane pollution into the atmosphere — the largest uncombusted release of this potent greenhouse gas in U.S. history, and seen by many as the industry’s worst environmental disaster since the BP oil spill.

Facilities like Aliso Canyon inject gas pumped in from elsewhere and withdraw it when needed for electric production or heating. Aliso Canyon is the largest field of its kind west of the Mississippi River. There are around 400 such facilities across the U.S., about 14 in California. Until recently, regulatory oversight of these facilities has been uneven at best.

The exact cause of the Aliso Canyon incident is still being investigated, but all signs point to a problem in the aging, corroded casing of one of over a hundred individual wells at the sprawling site. Neither the utility’s maintenance programs nor the state’s lax enforcement of 1980s-era policies were sufficient to prevent this disaster. But now that’s about to change. Read More »

Posted in Aliso Canyon, California, Climate, Methane, Natural Gas| Also tagged | Comments are closed

3 Things to Know About Gas Pipeline Regulations

rp_9496055390_6ce041c81b_o-300x168.jpgA ruptured natural gas pipeline in the quiet community of San Bruno, California ignited on the evening of September 9, 2010. The resulting fire destroyed 38 homes, killed eight people, and injured many others. It was one of the biggest pipeline explosions in recent history, and it very likely could have been prevented.

Now, almost six years later, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is proposing new regulations to prevent serious incidents, like what happened in San Bruno, from happening again. Read More »

Posted in Climate, Methane, Natural Gas| Also tagged , | Comments are closed

Pipeline Safety Bill Puts New Focus on Aging Gas Infrastructure

9496055390_6ce041c81b_oLast month, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the SAFE PIPES Act, reauthorizing the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Tucked inside the bipartisan bill are important new measures intended to advance the ways in which regulators facilitate the repair and replacement of old, increasingly leaky pipeline systems.

The bill also creates a multi-agency task force looking into the health, safety, environmental and economic impacts of the four-month disaster at the 70-year-old Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility – and what should be done to prevent another one like it.

Aging pipeline systems are a huge challenge. Besides safety concerns, the cost of lost gas is a needless burden on ratepayers. And regulators are also growing increasingly concerned about the climate impact of leaking methane, the main ingredient in natural gas. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Also tagged | Read 1 Response
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