U.S. task force issues recommendations to cut natgas facility leak risks

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 18, 2016 1:32 PM

(Reuters) - A U.S. interagency task force on Tuesday issued recommendations aimed at reducing the risk of incidents involving natural gas facilities in the wake of a major leak from the Aliso Canyon storage facility in California last year.

Operators should phase out 'single point of failure' designs, that hindered the ability to swiftly control and repair the leak at Aliso Canyon, at storage facilities, except under limited circumstances, the task force put together in the wake of the 2015 incident said in a report.

The task force was co-chaired by Franklin Orr, Under Secretary for Science and Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE); and Marie-Therese Dominguez, Administrator of the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration or PHMSA.

The report included 44 recommendations to industry, federal, state, and local regulators and governments to reduce the likelihood of future leaks and minimize the impacts of any that occur.

Other directions included risk assessments by natural gas storage facility operators and development and implementation of transition plans to address high-risk infrastructure, the task force said in a statement.

SoCalGas, owned by California energy company Sempra Energy, shut Aliso Canyon in October 2015 due to a massive methane leak that was not plugged until February. Aliso Canyon is the biggest of its four storage fields and supplies gas to homes and businesses in Southern California, including power plants and refineries.

(Reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese)