National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall today released the following statement after his visit this afternoon to the site of the El Paso Natural Gas Company pipeline rupture last weekend near Carlsbad, New Mexico that killed 11 people. This is the deadliest pipeline accident in the continental United States in nearly 25 years:
National Transportation Safety Board investigators thus far have determined that the section of pipe that failed during this accident was originally installed in 1952. It is unfortunate that this pipe had never been inspected with an internal inspection tool or hydrostatically tested in all that time.
There are no federal regulations requiring such tests. Although this section of pipeline as configured could not accommodate an internal inspection tool, it could have been pressure tested or examined by other means. The NTSB has been urging mandatory testing requirements such as internal inspections and pressure tests since 1987.
No American would want to use any transportation vehicle that would not be properly inspected for 48 years, nor should we have pipelines travelling though any of our communities in this condition.
The Safety Board's investigation continues. We hope to find out why this pipeline failed and what additional steps might be recommended to prevent such accidents in the future.