WASHINGTON -- An increase in major ruptures of natural gas and fuel pipelines is due to poor government oversight and inadequate industry inspection of the nation's labyrinth of aging pipes, federal safety officials said Wednesday.
The problem has gained nationwide attention because of two high-profile accidents: Twelve members of two families camping in New Mexico were killed earlier this year when a 50-year-old natural gas pipeline exploded. And three youths died in Washington state in 1999 when gasoline leaking from a pipeline built in 1966 ignited in a creek.
At a special hearing Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board called on pipeline operators to develop a standardized system of inspections and to adopt better technology to detect weaknesses and leaks in pipes.
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