Press Release

Appalachian Voices statement on Government Accountability Office report on pipeline safety deficiencies

April 9, 2024

Dan Radmacher, Media Specialist, (540) 798-6683,

On April 3, 2024, the Government Accountability Office released a report to congressional committees on gas pipeline safety, which included multiple concerns with current data collection and reporting from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The report sheds light on gaps in the safety agency’s evaluation of impact zones and a lack of detailed data required from pipeline operators after a pipeline incident. The report makes multiple recommendations to accelerate the implementation of PHMSA’s 2022 Final Rule intended to strengthen pipeline safety regulations and underscores why robust funding is needed for the agency’s implementation of stronger standards.

Determining the scale of impact zones has been a constant concern from those living near the under-construction Mountain Valley Pipeline, as the pipeline’s route is through a set of geohazards — steep terrain, karst areas and a seismic zone — that could expand the blast zone, should a leak or explosion occur.

Statement by Quenton King, Federal Legislative Specialist:
“This GAO report on the federal agency tasked with setting pipeline safety standards, PHMSA, is very alarming. As Congress considers reauthorizing PHMSA, it should require the agency to address the deficiencies outlined by the GAO, including implementation of the 2022 Final Rule and improved, realistic evaluation of impact zones backed by data. Congress must also provide sufficient funding to the agency to achieve these safety improvements. Community members living near the Mountain Valley Pipeline have long questioned the narrowness of the estimated blast zone and it’s urgent for PHMSA to reevaluate those estimates.”


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