Citizens for Safe Pipelines
On behalf of the Board of Citizens for Safe Pipelines, I want to thank the NTSB for their hard work in investigating the cause of the El Paso pipeline rupture that claimed the lives of 12 New Mexicans on August 19, 2000. These innocent victims were camping and fishing near the Pecos River when El Paso's 48 year old pipeline exploded. As has now been made clear by the NTSB's investigation, El Paso did not effectively detect or control the internal corrosion that was occurring in its pipeline system. The Office of Pipeline Safety conducted numerous inspections prior to the accident and never found any deficiencies. But after the accident, OPS had no difficulty discovering them.
This accident report should cause anyone who lives in a community near a pipeline to shudder in disbelief. There is a serious disconnect in the lobbying efforts of the natural gas industry. On the one hand, the industry has fought a requirement for internal inspection that would have detected such corrosion and prevented this tragedy. On the other hand, the pipeline industry insists that pipelines last indefinitely if properly maintained. But how are they are we to gauge when they are properly maintained when the pipelines are never inspected? Our pipeline infrastructure is growing older by the day while the industry fights measures to monitor pipeline integrity. This state of affairs cannot continue.
Citizens for Safe Pipelines calls on the pipeline industry to engage in serious, meaningful reform of its lobbying efforts. Internal inspection has been available for years. Had the industry modernized a portion of its infrastructure each year since the advent of internal inspection devices, this accident might have been prevented.
Citizens for Safe Pipelines also calls on the Office of Pipeline Safety to take the NTSB report to heart. Pipelines traverse communities all across our nation and are a critical part of our nation's energy infrastructure. Those communities depend on OPS regulations and inspectors to keep them safe from corroding, aging pipelines. A pipeline safety regulator that does not keep the interests of those communities in mind will sacrifice lives for the sake of friendly relations with those it regulates.
Carol Parker, President