How Safe Are Georgia’s Gas Pipelines?
Last week, a tremendous gas pipeline explosion tore through a neighborhood in San Bruno, California, killing four people and injuring several others.The explosion has been linked to a rupture in the gas transmission line.Since the explosion, there have been reports that residents in the neighborhood smelled gas before the blast.They complained to Pacific Gas and Electric, the utility company that owns the pipeline, and never heard back.Now, it turns out that the pipeline which was installed in 1948, had been certified by the company as being at a” high risk of failure.”
Even though this happened in California, it’s very easy to feel uncomfortable about something like this happening in Georgia.When was the last time you saw utility company workers performing preventive maintenance checks and repairs of gas pipelines?Much of our national infrastructure is crumbling, and there’s no reason to hope that things are much different several feet below the ground.
The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is the little-known federal unit in charge of inspecting the nation’s pipelines.It has a grand total of 100 inspectors to do so.In case of intrastate lines, the response for oversight of pipelines is simply handed over to the utilities.
There may be more reason to be alarmed.As poorly staffed as the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is, that is far from its only problem.According to analysts, during the earlier administration, the agency was run by lobbyists.Years of neglect have rendered the agency a spineless entity that does not have the resources, power, or even will, to carry out its oversight duties.
Fortunately, in the wake of the California explosion, the National Transportation Safety Board is pushing for fewer lobbyists at the PHMSA, and more inspectors and resources.
Georgia residents deserve to sleep peacefully at night, without the fear that a cracked pipeline beneath their homes is leaking deadly gas.
The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at the Katz Law Firm represent victims of personal injury in the metro Atlanta region and across Georgia.