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BILL RADKE: Are the safety laws on America’s pipelines springing some leaks? That’s what the U.S. Senate is debating today. That deadly natural gas explosion in San Bruno, Calif., this month has prompted calls for more pipeline upgrades and more federal oversight and.
Marketplace’s Sarah Gardner has the story.
SARAH GARDNER: The Obama administration is proposing more inspectors for natural gas pipe lines and stiffer fines for safety violations. But critics say old pipeline equipment needs replacing as well. In San Bruno it took Pacific Gas & Electric nearly two hours to shut off the gas line, partly because the utility was still using a manual shut-off valve.
RICK KESSLER: It’s a big valve that someone actually has to drive through traffic to get to and turn by hand.
Rick Kessler is with the watchdog group Pipeline Safety Trust.
KESSLER: A remote valve would allow you to press a button from a control room and shut down the flow of gas almost immediately.
California Senator Barbara Boxer is pushing a bill to require remote shut-off valves on the nation’s natural gas pipelines. Kessler says right now 7 percent of those pipelines run under high risk areas like cities and suburbs.
I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.
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