Federal task force recommends safety upgrades for gas storage

Federal task force recommends safety upgrades for gas storage
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A federal task force is recommending a slew of industry and government measures to improve the safety of underground natural gas storage wells.

The task force, organized by the Energy Department in cooperation with numerous other agencies, put out its report Tuesday with the goal of preventing and mitigating large-scale gas leaks like the one that started nearly a year ago just north of Los Angeles.

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“No community should have to go through something like the Aliso Canyon leak again,” Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizBiden under pressure from environmentalists on climate plan Pelosi, Clinton among attendees at memorial reception for Ellen Tauscher 2020 is the Democrats' to lose — and they very well may MORE said in the report, referring to the site of the leak of more than 90,000 metric tons of gas.

“It is up to industry to implement these recommendations in a timely fashion, while state and federal officials develop regulations that enhance the safety of underground storage facilities in the United States.”

While the task force didn’t try to solve any mysteries regarding the Aliso Canyon leak, it found that gas storage facilities are frequently decades old, using technology that is now outdated and has taken a significant beating.

The report outlines 44 distinct recommendations to the industry and regulators.

Chief among the recommendations is for the industry to phase out storage wells with a single point of failure.

Operators should establish risk management plans that take into account key factors like the conditions of wells and how close they are to major population centers, the task force said.

Companies ought to prepare in advance for possible leaks and other problems, while power companies and utilities that rely on the gas stored in facilities should plan for what they would do without the gas.

The Environmental Defense Fund, which has taken a leading role among green groups in trying to reduce methane leaks, welcomed the report.

“This new report accurately describes the serious safety and environmental hazards involved with these crumbling links in our energy infrastructure,” said Mark Brownstein, the group’s vice president for energy and climate.

“The challenge now is taking action,” he said. “We need stronger safety standards at both the state and federal level, and to make sure that state and federal officials are working together to close the gaps in the safety net.”