Federal Oversight Of Pipelines Grossly Inadequate, Watchdog Finds

"The federal agency responsible for making sure states effectively oversee the safety of natural gas and other pipelines is failing to do its job, a government watchdog said in a report released Friday.

The federal effort is so riddled with weaknesses that it's not possible to ensure states are enforcing pipeline safety, the report by the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General said. The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA, isn't ensuring key state inspectors are properly trained, inspections are being conducted frequently enough and inspections target the most risky pipelines, it said.

The findings come more than three years after a gas pipeline explosion and fire killed eight people, injured 58 and destroyed much of a subdivision in San Bruno, California, a suburb south of San Francisco. Accident investigators cited weak state and federal oversight."

Joan Lowy reports for the Associated Press May 9, 2014.

Source: AP, 05/12/2014