Improvements in Washington State Pipeline Safety
In Washington State actions were taken rapidly after the Bellingham tragedy to ensure safe pipelines throughout the state. Then Governor Gary Locke appointed a Fuel Accident Prevention and Response Task Force made up of elected officials and agency representatives to draft recommendations to improve pipeline safety in the Washington State. The Task Force met from July to December of 1999 before releasing its report to the Governor. To review that report click here.
In the months that followed the release of the Fuel Accident Prevention and Response Task Force’s report the state legislature moved to pass new legislation to improve pipeline safety where the state had authority (intrastate pipelines that do not cross the state line), and to seek greater inspection authority from the federal government for interstate pipelines (those that do cross state lines). On March 28,2000 Governor Locke signed into law the Washington State Pipeline Safety Act.
This Act not only sought greater authority for the state regarding pipeline safety, it also set up a Citizen Committee on Pipeline Safety, upgraded the state’s “call before you dig” program, initiated a study of local emergency preparedness regarding pipeline incidents, and required that pipeline maps be made available. The following year the state legislature passed a bill that required pipeline companies within the state to pay fees to cover the cost of the state’s pipeline safety program.
In 2003, after working closely with the federal office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) for two years, the Washington Utilities & Transportation Commission’s (WUTC) Pipeline Safety Program became the lead inspector for all interstate pipeline inspections and incidents within the state of Washington. The WUTC can make recommendations to OPS but does not have enforcement authority over interstate pipelines.
To learn more about what the state is doing regarding pipeline safety visit the following links.
• Washington Utilities & Transportation Commission’s (WUTC) Pipeline Safety Program
• Washington State Citizen Committee on Pipeline Safety
• Washington Utilities Coordinating Council – Call Before You Dig Program