McAfee & Taft RegLINC - May 2011: Aftershocks By Chris Paul


The PG&E pipeline explosion of September 9, 2010, has continued to result in scrutiny of and introspection by the pipeline industry. Other incidents prior and subsequent to San Bruno have contributed to the once again renewed focus on pipeline safety that started a decade ago with the Bellingham spill and the Carlsbad explosion, but the impact of San Bruno is, in large part, that activities associated with integrity programs have been accelerated, and public misperceptions may have forced agencies to take positions with respect to enforcement that might be more than necessary given improvements in operations to date and the overall safety record of the pipeline industry. That said, it appears that PHMSA is yet again showing that its personnel understand the industry that they regulate and will provide oversight that has a rational basis and makes sense.

Since San Bruno, we have seen advisory bulletins requiring better communication and coordination with first responders, and requiring pipelines to validate and document integrity (in particular pressure) information.

Article Authored by McAfee & Taft Attorney: Chris Paul.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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