California: Pipeline Accident Leads to Proposed Safety Bill

March 7, 2006
The deaths of five workers resulting from a gasoline pipeline explosion have inspired a California state senator to introduce pipeline safety legislation.

The objective of Senate Bill 1359 which Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, introduced Feb. 21 is to improve safety during excavation work around high-risk pipelines that carry flammable fuels such as a gasoline and natural gas.

SB 1359's proposed changes to existing California excavation regulations include state-approved training for workers who mark the locations of pipelines, better coordination between pipeline operators and excavators and requiring the best-available technology to locate pipelines, according to Torlakson.

Torlakson said that the proposed legislation is the result of a Nov. 9, 2004, pipeline accident that killed five workers.

The tragedy occurred at a Walnut Creek, Calif., construction site when a backhoe punctured an underground, high-pressure gasoline pipeline. The gasoline vapors ignited, creating a fireball and explosion that killed the workers, who were part of a welding crew working nearby to build a new water main.

State investigations later showed that there were serious safety lapses during the excavation process and that a few simple changes could have prevented the entire accident, according to Torlakson.

"This bill will help to ensure that what happened in Walnut Creek won't happen in any other community," Torlakson said. "A few simple safeguards will not only protect workers it will save lives."

According to Torlakson, who led a hearing of the California Senate Select Committee on Bay Area Infrastructure regarding the Walnut Creek accident, officials concluded that factors such as improper marking of the gasoline pipeline prior to digging and communication gaps between parties working at the construction site contributed to the explosion.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!