NTSB and Gas Leaks?

Why in the world would the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigate the wide spread gas leaks north of Boston last week? (This is per CBS News.)

Per their mandate

The NTSB is most famous for their aircraft and train crash investigations, but they’re responsible for investigations of ALL methods of transit-- including pipelines.


I know this because back when that pipeline in Bellevue, WA exploded and killed a few people playing in a park, the NTSB did an investigation.

Pipelines were originally built to compete with railroads and break there monopoly on transporting oil. That is, pipelines transport things that cold be transported by another method. The key word here is transport.

Here’s the link to the whole collection. Fascinating stuff.

It’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with it, but the actual office that set standards for pipelines is the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). I believe that it was the Office of Pipeline Safety several years ago, and for a while it was under the TSA. That particular arrangement made me wonder about them.

NTSB investigates accidents and makes recommendations, but they don’t actually regulate anything. Safety regulations are left to the FAA (airplanes), FRA (trains), PHMSA (pipes) and so on.

Code of Federal Regulations CFR 49 is the governing regulation for hazardous materials transport - including pipelines.

Here is an old edition (2012) in massive PDF - https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2012-title49-vol2/pdf/CFR-2012-title49-vol2.pdf

Specifically Subchapter D, parts 190-199