In the wake of a number of pipeline failures, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood launched a nationwide pipeline safety initiative yesterday. The failures include a natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California that killed eight, an oil pipeline failure that leaked a million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, a deadly natural gas explosion in Allentown, Pennsylvania that killed five, and two oil pipeline failures in Salt Lake City that leaked 54,600 gallons of crude oil into Red Butte Creek. The pipeline failures in Salt Lake City damaged the creek ecosystem and the pond in Liberty Park, the heart of the Salt Lake City park system.
The initiative calls for pipeline owners to conduct origin to terminus reviews of oil and gas pipelines to identify high risk locations and and critical repair work. In addition, a Pipeline Safety Forum has been scheduled for April 18th to review proposed federal legislation aimed at beefing up oversight of pipeline safety.
LaHood has also asked for an increase in civil penalties for safety violations from $100,000 per day to $250,000 per day for single violations, and from $1 million for a series of violations to $2.5 million. Other proposals include information reporting improvements, increasing the number of inspectors, reviewing risk management protocols, reviewing regulations for loop holes and increase the availability of information concerning pipelines available to the communities where they are located.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.