Casey Calls on Columbia Gas for Answers After Pipeline Explosion

Late-night Gas Explosion in Bedford County Displaced Families, Destroyed Buildings

Casey: Passage Pipeline Safety Bill Necessary to Protect PA Communities

WASHINGTON, DC U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today wrote to Columbia Gas Transmission Company seeking an explanation regarding their investigation into the recent pipeline explosion in Bedford County and urging the company to address any concerns raised by local residents.

Despite the seriousness of this week’s explosion, which destroyed buildings, vehicles and displaced families, Columbia Gas still has not provided answers on the explosion’s cause.

“The recent explosion in Bedford County exposed a potentially serious problem in the region that requires answers right away,” Senator Casey said. “Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt in this explosion, but we need answers so that residents are safe in the future.”

Senator Casey also today called on the U.S. House of Representatives to take up the Pipeline Safety Transportation Improvement Act (S.275), a bill he cosponsored and strongly pushed for passage in the Senate.

“The House must pass this legislation to ensure Pennsylvanians and citizens across the country who live near pipelines are safe,” said Senator Casey. 

The bill increases federal pipeline safety inspectors and requires automatic or remote controlled shut off valves for new pipelines.  It also closes a loophole that exempts state departments from giving the DOT 48 hours of notice of intent to drill.  This will help prevent damage to pipelines. The legislation requires public access to pipeline emergency response plans and increases civil penalties for pipeline safety violations.

The bill also included language advocated by Senator Casey to address the replacement of aging cast iron pipes. Senator Casey anticipates that this provision will help keep the industry more accountable and speed up the replacement of cast iron pipelines, some of which are over 100 years old in Pennsylvania.

Senator Casey’s letter to Columbia Gas Transmission Company CEO Jimmy Staton is below:

Dear Mr. Staton:

I write to urge an expeditious and thorough investigation of the recent explosion in Bedford County at your facility.  Understanding the cause of the accident is crucial to ensuring the safety of my constituents. 

Pipeline safety is of paramount importance to the people of Pennsylvania, as the state has tens of thousands of miles of intrastate transmission and distribution pipelines.  I have been informed that the explosion at Columbia Gas Transmission Company’s compression station caused significant damage to pipelines in the region and ask you to direct all available resources to repair these pipelines in order to prevent future accidents from occurring.  In addition, I request that you communicate with the public and work in coordination with the Bedford County Emergency Management officials to address any concerns raised by local residents.

Finally, I respectfully request a written explanation of your investigation and details regarding what procedures Columbia Gas Transmission Company has in place to inspect or replace unsafe pipelines.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator

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