HARRISBURG – The work performed by the PUC’s Pipeline Safety Division recently earned high marks in annual monitoring of state pipeline safety programs by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
The PUC scored 50 out of a possible maximum of 50 points on the annual PHMSA Progress Report, along with a score of 115 out of a total 116 points in the Annual Program Evaluation Review. These in-depth evaluations are intended to assess the overall pipeline safety performance of various state agencies, covering six different areas: damage prevention programs, inspection activities, inspector qualifications, leak management, enforcement and incident investigations.
“I want to commend our Pipeline Safety Team for the work they do each and every day,” said Commissioner John F. Coleman, Jr. “It is not an easy job, but it is a key part of the PUC’s public safety mission and we appreciate their hard work.”
In addition to evaluating the performance of the PUC’s Pipeline Safety Division, the PHMSA evaluation also highlighted Commission efforts to address broader pipeline safety concerns.
Over the past five years there has been a substantial reduction in excavation damage to underground pipelines in Pennsylvania, which remains the leading cause of incidents and leaks in natural gas distribution systems. Reducing the number of these incidents and strengthening the Pennsylvania One Call program has been a long-standing priority for the Commission.
The review also highlighted the PUC’s ongoing efforts to accelerate the removal and replacement of “at-risk” cast iron pipelines across the state – which has been another key concern for the Commission. Utilities across the state are replacing these older lines at an ever-increasing rate, and the PUC continues to encourage greater efforts to reduce leaks and enhance systems.
“We are fortunate that the PUC has some of the most knowledgeable pipeline safety engineers in the country, and this national evaluation underscores the quality of our team,” said Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “Our programs are models for other states and this reflects the work our team members do every day to help ensure safe and reliable utility service for our communities.”
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
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