Steel pipes placed under scrutiny

LOS ANGELES - Following an NBC report illustrating the dangers of natural gas mains made of steel - which are susceptible to corrosion, leaking and cracking under stress - the L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday called for status report on existing steel gas lines in Los Angeles County.The report will be conducted by the director of public works and is expected back within 45 days. County officials said the report will include the age and number of miles of steel lines as well as the progress of replacing them with plastic pipes. Since 1970, leaks, fires and explosions have declined as many utilities have switched over to plastic pipes, which are less vulnerable to corrosion. Currently, 60% of the nation's 475,000 large gas mains are plastic, according to the Natural Gas Supply Association. The nation's second largest natural gas distributor, Atmost Energy Corporation which operates in 12 states, agreed in September 2010 to replace 100,000 steel pipelines in north Texas by late 2012. The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates natural gas pipelines, has commissioned a feasibility study to replace all 525,000 steel service lines across the state. In Washington, the Puget Sound Energy Company replaced 9,000 older steel gas lines and in Arizona, regulators have issued a warning to the nearly 2 million customers served by the Southwest Gas Corporation that it's the customers' responsibility to monitor the lines and identify any potential problems before they become hazardous.

********** Published: February 17, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 44