On Oct. 19, a federal task force released a Final Report outlining recommendations for industry and government in the wake of the 2015 natural gas leak at Aliso Canyon in southern California. The Interagency Task Force on Natural Gas Storage Safety (“Task Force”), created by Congress in the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016, convened to analyze the Aliso Canyon incident and to recommend ways to reduce the likelihood of future leaks from underground natural gas storage facilities.

The Final Report sets out 44 recommendations for industry and government to take to ensure the long-term safety and reliability of natural gas storage facilities across the U.S. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will consider the Task Force’s recommendations as it prepares an Interim Final Rule (IFR) expected later this year that will establish new safety regulations for underground gas storage facilities. See also PHMSA Advisory Bulletin ADB-2016-02, Pipeline Safety: Safe Operations of Underground Storage Facilities for Natural Gas. The Final Report estimates there are 400 active underground natural gas storage wells operating in 25 states. Many of these storage wells were constructed prior to 1980 and are the most likely to receive scrutiny by PHMSA in its upcoming IFR.

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