A recent pipeline explosion in faraway California is focusing attention on the safety of Indiana’s very own gas transmission pipelines. Federal agencies believe Indiana’s safety record where gas pipelines are concerned is good, but all it takes is a single corroded and disintegrating pipe or excavation on the wrong site, for disaster to strike. Unfortunately, it seems that years of complacency could have placed Indiana’s gas pipelines at risk of a disaster.
Earlier this month, a gas pipeline in San Bruno, California exploded, killing 8 people and leaving several injured. The explosion caused millions of dollars worth of property damage, and rendered several people homeless.
The last major pipeline explosion in Indiana was back in 2006 in Huntington near Fort Wayne, and involved a gas pipeline owned by the Indiana Gas Company. The pipeline ruptured when it was struck by excavation equipment, and the resulting explosion killed two people. Overall, since 2000, a total of seven people have been killed in gas pipeline explosions in Indiana. All of these explosions occurred on transmission lines, which are large pipes that carry gas under greater pressure. These pipes account for approximately 5,000 miles of the state’s pipeline infrastructure.
In the wake of the California tragedy, questions are being asked about the regulation of utility companies and maintenance of pipelines. Across the country, the age of gas pipelines is being called into question, and there’s no reason to believe that these concerns are not valid in Indiana too. Many of these pipelines were installed between four and five decades ago. Then, much of the length of these pipelines stretched beneath rural areas. Now, these same areas are heavily populated, and any explosion could have devastating consequences.
It’s not just the age of the pipelines and the possibility of corrosion and damage that concerns Indiana personal injury lawyers. It’s also the fact that the utility companies themselves are responsible for the maintenance of their pipelines. The National Transportation Safety Board has already expressed its concern that federal and state regulatory agencies place much of their trust on utility companies’ ability to police themselves.