The number of oil and gas pipeline accidents has been on the rise. Oil pipelines are increasingly becoming a threat to our health and safety, and the health and safety of our pristine environment.
Henry C. Jackson reports
Since 2009, the annual number of significant accidents on oil and petroleum pipelines has shot up by almost 60 percent, roughly matching the rise in U.S. crude oil production, according an analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.
Nearly two-thirds of the leaks during that time have been linked to corrosion or material, welding and equipment failures, problems often associated with older pipelines, although they also can occur in newer ones. Other leaks were blamed on natural disasters or human error, such as a backhoe striking a pipeline.
Industry officials and federal regulators say they have adequate means of gauging the safety of pipelines, but the aging infrastructure is a source of lingering concern for outside experts.
"Tick, tick, tick," said Robert Bea, a professor emeritus in civil engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. "Things get older. They don't get stronger."
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