Gas Safety Valves Might Have Prevented More Than 400 Injuries, Had They Been Used

What would you think if someone told you that over 271 pipeline accidents could have been prevented (or seriously contained) all for about $15 a piece? What about if it cost $300 a piece? What price do you put on the safety of more than 400 lives?

The Associated Press recently discovered that by placing a special gas line safety valve – which costs about $15 to be installed for a home or small business, and $300 for a larger building – natural gas pipelines can easily cut off leaking gases, preventing dangerous conditions that often lead to explosions.

But almost 90 percent of the millions of miles of gas pipelines running throughout the nation do not have these safety valves installed.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended installation 16 times, but the energy companies insist that they not only cost too much to install, but are also unreliable. In 2009, with the backing of Congress, safety value installation became a rule for all gas pipelines leading to newly constructed, single-family homes.

According to the US Department of Transportation, at least 148 incidents could have been mitigated or eliminated altogether had the valves been in place. Between the NTSB and Associated Press at least another 123 avoidable accidents have been identified. That’s 271 gas leaks and pipeline explosions, total – that killed 67 people and injured another 350.

The federal pipeline safety agency is now considering creating a rule that would require the safety values for multi-family and commercial buildings.

Source: New York Times, “AP IMPACT: Gas Line Safety Valves Resisted,” 7/23/12.