Inspections Transportation

Rep. DeFazio calls for audit of PHMSA programs


Peter DeFazio

Washington – The ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has called for a full audit of safety programs within the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

In a Feb. 3 letter to Department of Transportation Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel III, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said PHMSA had failed to address longstanding issues such as new design standards for rail tank cars.

In the past decade, the National Transportation Safety Board has investigated 12 incidents involving DOT-111 tank cars that carried crude oil and other flammable materials, DeFazio said. NTSB repeatedly recommended that PHMSA adopt new standards, but the agency did not issue a notice of proposed rulemaking until after a train carrying crude oil in DOT-111 cars exploded and killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, in 2013.

Other issues prompted Congress to take action with the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011, DeFazio said. Yet “almost none” of the safety measures in the document have been finalized, he added.

“Finalizing these rules is imperative; our nation’s vast 2.5 million-mile pipeline network is aging,” DeFazio wrote. “According to PHMSA, more than 50 percent of these pipelines were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s. The potential for catastrophic accidents is not a matter of if, but when.”