Feds propose safety valves for gas lines

The new proposal made by the Transportation Department covers new or replaced natural gas lines serving multi-family dwellings, small businesses and homes not covered under the previous 2009 mandate.
The National Transportation Safety Board and other safety advocates have requested that the requirements for so-called excess flow valves be broadened. The devices cost about $30 apiece for residential use, according to officials, and are designed to automatically shut off the flow of gas when a line is ruptured.
Officials stressed that the valves won’t prevent lines from being ruptured, such as when a backhoe doing excavation work slices through a gas pipe servicing a house. But by limiting the amount of gas that escapes, the valves can prevent a buildup of fuel that can contribute to explosions or fires. Customers could request the safety valves under the rule for the tens of millions of gas lines already installed across the U.S., but it does not specify who would pay for their installation. About 180,000 automatic valves would be installed annually under the rule, according to the Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Out of more than 67 million gas service lines in the U.S., just over 9.3 million currently have excess flow valves, according to information submitted to regulators.

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