Nearly 90% of pipeline blasts don't receive penalties

Well, it’s no surprise but it’s still alarming: nearly all pipeline blasts don’t receive penalties. More from E&E News below -

“Sue Bonham was ready to die.

A ruptured high-pressure natural gas pipeline was firing a flame at her house like a blowtorch. She was crouching by a fence in a flower garden behind her home about 200 yards away, struggling to breathe the scalding air. Her thoughts turned to the things she'd miss — grandchildren, birthdays, weddings — but she had made her peace.

"God, please," she thought, "just don't let me know I'm going to burn alive."

About 20 miles down Interstate 77 in Charleston, Jim Cooper was looking at his screen in the control room of Columbia Gas Transmission, trying to decipher an array of signals. It took about 10 minutes and two calls from a different gas company to determine a line had ruptured. It took nearly an hour to shut off the flow of gas.

Across the road from Bonham that day in December 2012, the house of a night nurse was incinerated. Normally, the nurse would have been sleeping there. But she had left minutes before the blast to see a children's Christmas pageant. Up the hill, four hunting dogs died, trapped in their kennel. …

Federal regulators at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration ordered Columbia to repair the line and inspect it at a higher standard. But they didn't seek a financial penalty.

They rarely do. Since the beginning of 2010, interstate pipelines have exploded or caught fire 137 times, according to an E&E News analysis of interstate pipeline enforcement and incident data. In about 90 percent of those cases, PHMSA sought no fine.”