AP investigation says gas pipeline accidents could have been avoided

July 23, 2012

More than 70 people have died in major gas pipeline explosions in recent decades that could have been prevented or made less dangerous if the lines were equipped with relatively cheap safety valves.

Industry resistance has kept the devices from being fitted on pipelines servicing most homes and businesses.

An Associated Press investigation identified at least 270 natural gas line accidents nationwide since 1968 that could have been avoided or diminished by valves that cut off leaking gas. The devices cost as little as $10-$15 for homes and small businesses.

Nearly 90 percent of the nation's gas service lines aren't fitted with the valves.

Regulators are considering rules to require them on new or replaced pipelines serving multi-family homes and commercial buildings. Some utilities say the valves are unreliable and can cost too much.

Associated Press 2012