California senators introduce pipeline safety bill

San Bruno police cordoned off the Glenview neighborhood where a natural gas pipeline exploded Sept. 9, 2010.
San Bruno police cordoned off the Glenview neighborhood where a natural gas pipeline exploded Sept. 9, 2010. Julie Small/KPCC

It’s been two weeks since a natural gas pipeline ruptured in San Bruno. The explosion killed at least four people and destroyed more than three dozen homes. Today California’s two U.S. senators introduced a bill that would toughen pipeline safety.

"The Strengthening Pipeline Safety and Enforcement Act" would double the number of federal pipeline safety inspectors. It would require robots to inspect pipes’ interiors for corrosion.

The bill also would mandate electronic shutoff valves, increase penalties for safety violations, and broaden the definition of risk factors in determining which pipes get priority for safety oversight.

Existing rules regard pipe placement in residential neighborhoods and near high rise buildings as a risk factor. The bill would add seismic zones and the age of the pipes.

The bill includes recommendations from federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — whose agency is responsible for pipeline safety.

Senator Dianne Feinstein calls the explosion in San Bruno “a tragedy that must never occur again in any American neighborhood.”

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