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State proposes closer pipeline monitoring


State regulators are proposing closer monitoring of pipelines following a series of mishaps on the Mariner East line and public unease over the proposed Adelphia Gateway and PennEast projects, both of which would affect Upper Bucks.

Stating its goal is to craft new rules on pipeline operations, maintenance and safety, the Public Utilities Commission, tasked with pipeline safety in the state, last week urged public comment on such issues as appropriate pipeline depth, corrosion prevention, and frequency of inspections, which are currently required once every three weeks.

While the PUC report is primarily focused on pipelines that transport hazardous liquids such as gasoline and diesel, the body is seeking the public’s input on such matters as protection of private wells, a concern raised by West Rockhill residents, who fear contamination from a proposed compressor station several hundred feet away.

In April, the state Department of Environmental Protection approved air quality permits for the facility despite overwhelming local opposition, a decision that the township and a group of residents are now appealing.

The commission is also mulling requiring more communication between pipeline operators and local municipalities and possibly joint emergency drills.

Springfield and West Rockhill townships have repeatedly complained about a lack of communication from Adelphia. In a filing with FERC, Springfield has requested that Adelphia provide annual emergency training to its police and fire department, as well as regional EMS so that an adequate response plan can be formulated.

Lynda Farrell, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Coalition, said in an e-mail Tuesday the proposals “give Pennsylvanians an opportunity to provide input to address community safety concerns that improve pipeline safety now and in the future through creating strong safety regulations.”

Comments can be electronically filed at, or sent to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission at 400 North St., Harrisburg, PA 17120.