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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: August 22, 2017 03:01 PM
From: Senator Andrew E. Dinniman
To: All Senate members
Subject: Pipeline Emergency Notification

I will soon introduce legislation intended to assist communication and coordination between emergency management agencies and pipeline companies in the event of a catastrophic release of natural gas or natural gas liquids in a highly populated community. The 2006 Public Utility Confidential Security Information Disclosure Act (35 Pa.C.S. Ch. 75) currently prohibits the PA Public Utility Commission from sharing specific security information related to public utilities based on issues of state and national security. After extended discussion, the Public Utility Commission has suggested a means in which we may obey the law while still ensuring public responders have access to vital information. While under current state law, the PUC is unable to release this information, a company is able to release this information directly to County emergency management coordinator.

In the event of a pipeline incident, the ability for our emergency responders to react in an expedient and informed manner is crucial to minimize loss of life and property damage. This legislation will mandate that public utility facilities transporting natural gas or natural gas liquids meet with the county emergency coordinator entrusted to respond in the event of natural gas release and provide, at a minimum, the following:
  1. Identification of any high consequence areas along the pipeline route and the potential impact radius located within the jurisdictional limits of the local emergency management organization; and,
  2. The public utilities current emergency operating procedures.

While the information received by the county emergency coordinator will be considered “confidential” under current PA law, I believe that information will assist in the development of appropriate and comprehensive response plans. Increased communication between county emergency management and pipeline companies will only improve public safety in the event of an incident. If a situation should occur, we rely on our emergency responders to have all the necessary information to respond safely and effectively.

I hope you will join me in sponsoring this legislation that supports our emergency responders and provides additional protection for Pennsylvania citizens living or working near natural gas pipelines.

Introduced as SB930