Safety Panel Created for Gas Storage Facilities

Prompted by the leak from the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, a task force of federal, state and local officials is being formed to look into safety issues related to that Los Angeles facility and others around the country.

The Interagency Task Force on Natural Gas Storage Safety will be chaired by officials from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

It will include experts from the Departments of Health and Human Services and the Interior, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with representatives of state and local agencies.

The panel is expected to issue its initial findings and recommendations in six months.

The announcement of the task force followed a February advisory from DOT’s pipeline regulators reminding energy companies of their obligation to verify and maintain the integrity of gas storage wells.

“Industry actions that led to the recent natural gas leak at California’s Aliso Canyon site underscored the serious risk that these storage facilities can pose,” the announcement said. The fact that the leak happened, the time it took to fix it, and the large number of people it affected were all “very concerning,” it added.

A spokeswoman for the American Petroleum Institute said, “As the interagency initiative moves forward, we look forward to working with them in the same collaborative way to ensure that any activities of the group are an effective and efficient means to further address safety.”

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