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Millions of Miles of US Gas Pipes to Get New Rules After Blasts

Jul 19, 2023

The Biden administration is moving forward with new regulations for natural gas pipelines in response to a deadly series of explosions that tore through suburban Massachusetts in 2018.

The Department of Transportation’s proposal would apply to millions of miles of aging distribution networks that are used to bring natural gas to customers.

The rule would require new construction inspection procedures, pressure relief valves and remote monitoring, among other changes, according to the department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. It takes into account highly technical amendments to existing regulations and disparities across hundreds or thousands of operators, the agency said. Utilities have previously opposed some of the requirements as too costly.

Read More: Fragile Pipelines Pose an Increasing Risk in Gas-Hungry US

The move follows a September 2018 incident that killed 18-year-old Leonel Rondon and injured nearly two dozen more after a series of at least three dozen explosions in Merrimack Valley outside of Boston along a pipeline network owned by NiSource Inc. The National Transportation Safety Board later found that a contributing factor in the accident was a lack of “overpressure protection” on a gas-distribution system operated by NiSource subsidiary Columbia Gas of Massachusetts.

“This proposal incorporates lessons from the 2018 Merrimack Valley tragedy to help ensure something like that never happens again,” said PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown. “These changes will protect communities and the environment, as well as lower energy costs for consumers.”

To contact the reporter on this story:Ari Natter in Washington at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story:Joe Ryan at [email protected]

Sophie Caronello

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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