Bill aims to strengthen natural gas pipeline safety

Bill aims to strengthen natural gas pipeline safety

LAWRENCE, Mass. — A bill aimed at strengthening pipeline safety in the U.S. is being pushed by members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation in response to September's natural gas explosions and fires in the Merrimack Valley.

Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Lori Trahan say the bill would require on-site monitoring of pressure regulation stations so employees could quickly shut off gas flow in an emergency. It would also require other safety features to help avoid over-pressurizations, blamed for the Merrimack Valley disaster.

Content Continues Below

The Democrats joined the family of Leonel Rondon, the Lawrence teen killed in the disaster to unveil the bill Monday at a fire station in Lawrence. The bill is named in honor of Rondon.

Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut are also sponsoring the proposal.

Dean Liberman, a spokesperson for Columbia Gas and NiSource, its parent company, issued a statement in response to the legislation unveiled by Sen. Markey.

"Upon initial review of the initiatives released today, we can say we have already adopted the vast majority of the critical safety provisions—from automatic shut off devices to Safety Management Systems to enhanced mapping to emergency preparedness and beyond. We recognize the importance of rebuilding public confidence when it comes to pipeline safety, and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress, our industry partners, and other stakeholders on this important mission. We share the desire to enhance pipeline safety as that is our top priority and guides all of our actions. Ever since the tragic event of September 13th, we have been taking tangible and forward-looking safety steps so something like that won't happen again."