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TWO RECENT GAS EXPLOSIONS DRAMATIZE THE NEED FOR REGULATIONS TO PREVENT THE OCCURRENCE OF CATASTROPHIC ACCIDENTS WHICH RESULT FROM THE UNAUTHORIZED OPERATION OF VALVES BY PERSONS OTHER THAN UTILITY COMPANY EMPLOYEES. IN THE FIRST, 12 PEOPLE WERE KILLED AND MORE THAN 60 INJURED WHEN A RESTAURANT OWNER IN NEW YORK CITY, ON DECEMBER 11, 1970, ALLEGEDLY OPENED A SHUT OFF VALVE LOCATED OUTSIDE IN THE STREET, ALLOWING GAS TO FLOW THROUGH UNCONNECTED HOUSE PIPING INTO THE BUILDING WHERE THE GAS EXPLODED. IN THE SECOND CASE, SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES EXISTED. ON JANUARY 4, 1970, IN MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA, THE NEW OWNER OF A RESTAURANT REPORTEDLY OPENED THE VALVE AT THE GAS METER BEHIND THE BUILDING WHICH SUPPLIED HIS PREMISES. AN EXPLOSION RESULTED WHICH KILLED ONE PERSON AND INJURED 34 OTHERS.
THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: ISSUE REGULATIONS WHICH WILL TEND TO PREVENT THE OCCURENCE OF CATASTROPHIC ACCIDENTS WHICH RESULT FROM THE UNAUTHORIZED OPERATION OF VALVES BY PERSONS OTHER THAN UTILITY COMPANY EMPLOYEES.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Action
Miami, FL, United States
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
RSPA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Safety Recommendation History
Notation 645: This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter of July 14 and July 16, on the subjects of OPS-10, Deactivation of Service Lines, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' comments to the report on the accident at Burlington, Iowa (NTSB-PAR-70-1). Your suggestion and the referenced State regulations, relative to OPS-IO, arc being included in the docket file of comments to that Notice of proposed Rulemaking. This information will be carefully evaluated for inclusion in the rule to be developed on the subject. The comments by ASME to your recommendations in the Burlington report arc being added to our files on the individual subjects. These will be considered in any future action or investigations taken. Thank you for your interest and assistance by providing us this information. We will keep you advised of any further action on our part in these areas.
Notation 645: The National Transportation Safety Board commands the prompt action which you have taken in issuing the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Notice 71-2, Docket 90. OPS-l0. Deactivation of Service Lines, published in the Federal Register on June 4, 1971. These proposed regulations, which are intended to prevent the occurrence of catastrophic accidents resulting from the unauthorized operation of gas valves, are in response to a recommendation made by the Safety board on April 27, 1971. We note that the thrust of the proposed regulations related to abandoned or deactivated services. This was a major factor in the Miami Beach, Florida, accident on January 4, 1971. However, the second accident which was cited in the board’s recommendation, namely, the New York City accident of December 11, 1970, involved new service facilities. Your proposed regulations do not appear to cover the unauthorized valve operation of the new gas line installations. A number of states, such as New York and Michigan, have regulations dealing with new installations. Copies of these two States’ regulations have been provided to your staff. Therefore, the Safety Board recommends that the proposal of June 4, 1976, expanded to cover equally both abandonment of the existing facilities and installation of new facilities.
DOT LETTER: ADVISED THAT THE OFFICE OF PIPELINE SAFETY IS PRESENTLY EVALUATING THE INFORMATION IT HAS OBTAINED FROM THE ACCIDENT INVESTIGATIONS, YOUR REPORT, AND INDUSTRY PRACTICES IN THIS AREA. A NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING, DESIGNED TO MINIMIZE THE POSSIBILITY OF ACCIDENTS CAUSED BY UNAUTHORIZED OPERATION OF VALVES, WILL BE ISSUED IN THE NEAR FUTURE. THIS NPRM WILL INCORPORATE RECOMMENDATIONS." 5/28/71 - AN NPRM WAS ISSUED BY OPS AMENDING $192.727 ABANDONMENT OR DEACTIVATION OF PIPELINES. 7/26/71 - LETTER FROM DOT IN RESPONSE TO NTSB LTR OF 7/14/71 YOUR SUGGESTION AND STATE REGULATIONS WILL BE CAREFULLY EVALUATED FOR INCLUSION IN THE RULE TO BE DEVELOPED ON THE SUBJECT. 10/3/72 - THE FEDERAL SAFETY STANDARDS WERE AMENDED TO COMPLY FULLY WITH THE BOARD'S RECOMMENDATION. THE REGULATION COVERS BOTH NEW AND DEACTIVATED FACILITIES. CORRESPONDENCE DOCUMENTATION INCOMPLETE.
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