Safety Recommendation P-80-059
Synopsis: On October 30, 1979, a natural gas explosion and fire demolished a townhouse at 215 Third Street SE, in Washington, D.C., and damaged nearby buildings and cars. No one was inside the townhouse at the time, but three persons in a stopped car were injured when debris from the explosion shattered a car window.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE RESEARCH AND SPECIAL PROGRAMS ADMINISTRATION OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: Amend 49 CFR 192.617 to require that operators preserve to the extent practicable the accident site and its affected gas facilities until on-scene investigations have been completed.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Pipeline
Location: Washington, DC, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: 80286
Accident Reports:
Report #: PAR-80-04
Accident Date: 10/30/1979
Issue Date: 7/15/1980
Date Closed: 9/29/1988
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: RSPA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)

Safety Recommendation History
From: RSPA
Date: 7/26/1990
Response: Thank you for the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) further response to a group of National Transportation Safety Board safety recommendations, all of which had previously been classified as "Closed- Unacceptable Action," and all of which were issued by the Safety Board at least 10 years ago. We have carefully reviewed and evaluated each of the RSPA responses. While the Safety Board appreciates the RSPA's effort to provide us an update on actions that may bear on these safety recommendations, the actions described do not constitute significant, directed progress toward fulfilling the intent of the Safety Board's safety recommendations, either now or at the time they were issued. Our concern over many of these important safety areas remains and therefore, we are not able to consider changing the existing status of the safety recommendations on the enclosed list. However, as always, we would welcome the opportunity to meet with RSPA officials to discuss actions that RSPA may take to satisfy the intent of these safety recommendations. SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS ADDRESSED TO RESEARCH AND SPECIAL PROGRAMS ADMINISTRATION PREVIOUSLY CLASSIFIED AS CLOSED--UNACCEPTABLE ACTION THAT WILL REMAIN IN THAT STATUS (These safety recommendations were classified by the Safety Board as "Closed-Unacceptable Action" by letter to the Research and Special Programs Administration dated September 28, 1988)

From: NTSB
Date: 9/29/1988
Response: RSPA's previous response also cited regulations that require operators to maintain liaison with the appropriate fire, police, and other public officials responding to the emergency. While the Board is certainly in favor of this requirement, we do not find that this requirement achieves the goal of Safety Recommendation P-80-59. Our goal was to prevent the premature removal of evidence before the onsite investigation has been completed, as occurred in the accident of October 30, 1979, in Washington, D.C. Since the intent of Safety Recommendation P-80-59 has not been met, it has now been placed in a CLOSED-UNACCEPTABLE ACTION status.

From: RSPA
Date: 3/21/1983
Response: Section 192.617 requires that each operator: establish procedures for analyzing accidents and failures, including the selection of samples of the failed facility or equipment for laboratory examination, where appropriate, for the purpose of determining the causes of the failure and minimizing the possibility of a recurrence. These requirements have been further strengthened and reinforced by section 192.615, emergency plans (amended, March 1976, 41 FR 13587) which, among other things, states that: beginning action under section 192.617, if applicable, as soon after the end of the emergency as possible, each operator shall establish and maintain liaison with appropriate fire, police, and other public officials to learn the responsibility and resources of each government organization that may respond to an emergency (this includes the NTSB and its investigative resources). Consequently, the analysis of accidents and failures, including the selection of samples of the failed facility or equipment for laboratory examination, must be accomplished in liaison with appropriate fire, police and other public officials who respond to the emergency. The NTSB does not have authority to determine who, among responding investigative public officials, receives priority treatment with respect to their investigative needs. It may, therefore, be appropriate for the NTSB to exercise its investigative authority such that it would have sole or priority investigative access to and/or control over all or certain types of pipeline accidents.

From: RSPA
Date: 10/17/1980
Response: This acknowledges receipt of NTSB Safety Recommendation P-80-59. The Materials Transportation Bureau is evaluating this recommendation and will respond as soon as the evaluation is completed.