• ECHO Action Editor

Like MA, NH's PUC should carefully review statewide gas distribution safety

Liberty Utilities' 2017 2.2% "lost and unaccounted for" leak rate of gas pipelines and the fines imposed upon them for failure to report leaks and failure to inspect pipelines, is compelling evidence that NH's pipelines should be fully evaluated before any additional fossil fuel expansion anywhere in the state.

Such evaluations should not be limited to the records of Liberty Utilities, or those of other natural gas suppliers, but be detailed physical inspections of any and all pipelines, fully assessing their risk, and the requirement that these repairs be fully made before expansion is considered.

Department of Public Utilities announces statewide safety review of gas distribution system

Colin A. Young / State House News Service

Posted Sep 26, 2018 at 10:45 AM

"In the wake of the deadly gas explosion in the Merrimack Valley on Sept. 13, the Department of Public Utilities on Wednesday announced plans to hire an independent evaluator to examine the the safety of the natural gas distribution system statewide.

The cost will be paid by that state’s gas providers. California conducted a similar review of its gas systems in 2010 after a Pacific Gas and Electric gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes. The utility was convicted of six felonies.

The evaluation will include a review of the physical integrity and safety of the distribution system and the operation and maintenance practices of all gas distributors in the state. It will analyze maximum allowable pressures and procedures in the event of abnormalities, compliance with Dig Safe rules and record-keeping.

Federal agencies including the Department of Transportation’s Office of Pipeline Safety and the National Transportation Safety Board are helping the state investigate the cause of the fires and explosions. The pipeline safety office will assist in choosing a contractor for the outside review.

A series of gas explosions an official described as “Armageddon” killed a teenager, injured at least 10 other people and ignited fires in at least 39 homes in three communities north of Boston, forcing entire neighborhoods to evacuate as crews scrambled to fight the flames and shut off the gas."

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