Congress reviews safety of hazardous liquid pipelines

July 1, 2010

In light of the Deepwater Horizon crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, transportation committee hearings were hosted to examine accountability for the tragic effects of the oil spill, the safety of existing hazardous liquid pipelines, and oversight of regulated and unregulated pipelines.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on June 30 hosted a hearing to explain industry accountability to the relatives of victims of an offshore incident.

Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee met June 29 to hear testimony on the safety management of hazardous liquid pipelines by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Meanwhile, the Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee's Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Subcommittee met June 24 concerning the safety of pipelines.

According to PHMSA, releases from hazardous liquid pipelines cause few annual fatalities compared with other product transportation modes, but in 2009, 100 significant hazardous liquid pipeline incidents (98 onshore and two offshore) occurred, resulting in four fatalities, four injuries and about $59 million in damages.