from the inbox:
With growing concern over the safety of underground pipelines, Auditor General Jack Wagner said today that the Department of Labor and Industry must improve its oversight of the Pennsylvania One Call System through adequate enforcement of the Underground Utility Line Protection Law, which was enacted to protect the health and safety of excavators, residents and property in Pennsylvania.
In a special performance audit released today, Wagner’s auditors found that the Department of Labor and Industry failed to consistently verify whether excavators made a required “one-call” to notify the PA One Call System of plans to perform excavation or demolition work; failed to hold excavators and businesses accountable to safety standards by failing to consistently enforce administrative penalties on violators of the law; and failed to investigate reported incidents in a timely manner.
Federal officials have recorded 2,840 significant gas pipeline accidents since 1990, more than a third of which caused deaths and significant injuries including a recent gas pipeline explosion in California that killed at least four people and injured dozens of others. Wagner noted that a 2008 gas pipeline explosion in Plum, Allegheny County, killed a 64-year-old man and injured a young girl. More recently, a crew working on a water line last week in Finleyville, Washington County, cut a gas line forcing at least seven families to evacuate their homes.
“A basic function of government is to protect its citizens,” Wagner said. “The Department of Labor and Industry must increase its vigilance in enforcing the Underground Utility Line Protection Law, so that the PA One Call System operates more effectively, and Pennsylvania residents can be assured that when excavation work occurs in their neighborhood, their safety and property are being treated as top priorities by state government.”
The full report is available at: www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.