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NC Sen. Marcus introduces bill to improve pipeline safety

April 6. NC Sen. Natasha Marcus has filed filed Senate Bill 549, Improve Pipeline Safety, in the wake of the worst pipeline leak in North Carolina history. Since the leak was discovered in August of last year more than 1.2 million gallons of gasoline have leaked from the 40-year-old pipeline which spans several counties in North Carolina.

NC Sen. Natasha Marcus

“We cannot allow a tragic mess like this to happen again. Our state can and should monitor aging hazardous liquid pipelines, rather than rely solely on the pipeline company and the federal government to be our watchdogs,” the NC District 41 senator said.

Her bill also calls on the NC DEQ to study what can be done at the state level to protect residents in the future.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration recently issued a Notice of Proposed Safety Order saying “conditions may exist on the Colonial Pipeline System that pose a pipeline integrity risk to public safety, property or the environment. The conditions that led to the failure potentially exist throughout the Colonial Pipeline system.”

Key elements of the bill include:

—Gives authority to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to study the condition, safety, and environmental impact of pipelines that transport petroleum products in and through the State for the purpose of providing recommendations to the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy on the need for additional funds and legislative changes to improve pipeline safety and protect the State’s land and waters from pollution caused by leaking or poorly maintained petroleum product pipelines.

—Appropriates $200,000 in nonrecurring funds over the biennium for the study authorized by this act.

—Gives the Department the authority to create time-limited positions related to the study.

“This bill will give NC DEQ the resources it needs to look out for our health and safety in light of the risks posed by aging hazardous liquid pipelines. For starters, I believe residents find it unacceptable that the state does not currently monitor such pipelines for leaks. We need to change that.”

—NC Sen. Natasha Marcus

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