DOE, PHMSA jointly launch interagency gas storage safety task force

The US Department of Energy and US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration jointly launched an interagency task force to examine natural gas storage safety, DOE Undersecretary Lynn Orr and PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez jointly announced.

Their Apr. 1 move came after a leak from Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon storage field near Los Angeles in late October took months to stop and forced the evacuation of residents from the nearby Porter Ranch subdivision. California’s two US senators, Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, called for creation of such a federal task force a week earlier (OGJ Online, Mar. 24, 2016).

“We’ll be joined on the task force by technical experts from the [US] Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of the Interior, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,” Orr and Dominguez said in an Apr. 1 blog.

“We will also continue to work closely with the State of California, Los Angeles County, and the City of Los Angeles to provide technical assistance and draw on their experience to improve US natural gas infrastructure,” they indicated.

DOE will hold workshops with the US gas industry and its companies, state and local leaders, and other interested stakeholders to support development of best practices for ensuring well integrity and proper response plans, and safe operations of storage facilities. They also will examine and assess the potential vulnerabilities to energy reliability posed by the loss of use of storage facilities, Orr and Dominguez said.

“To help companies and states avoid future incidents, the findings from the task force will be summarized and made public later this year,” they added.

PHMSA, which is a US Department of Transportation agency, urged gas storage facility operators to closely monitor operations to identify the potential for leaks and failures caused by corrosion, chemical or mechanical damage, or other material deficiencies in piping, tubing, casing, valves, and other associated facilities in an early February advisory bulletin (OGJ Online, Feb. 3, 2016).

Contact Nick Snow at

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