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Connecticut Nears Ban on Cleaning Pipes with Flammable Gas

Legislation that would ban the use of "flammable gas to clean or blow the gas piping" of electric generating facilities has been approved by the Connecticut Senate and needs only the signature of Gov. Dannel Malloy to become law.

The bill (HB 5802) would establish fines of up to $100,000 and prison terms of up to two years for each offense. It would also require companies applying to the Connecticut Siting Council to build electric generating facilities to provide a special inspector to help municipal fire marshals inspect the facilities, and to pay a fee that would be used to train local fire marshals "on the complex issues of electric generating facility construction."

HB 5802, which was approved by the state's House of Representatives last month (see Daily GPI, May 23), was approved by the Senate unanimously late Tuesday night. The Connecticut General Assembly was scheduled to adjourn Wednesday.

The bill was introduced following a natural gas explosion that caused six deaths and multiple injuries last year at an electric power plant in Middletown, CT (see Daily GPI, Feb. 10, 2010; Feb. 9, 2010). The explosion occurred at the 620 MW Kleen Energy combined-cycle baseload plant during the planned cleaning of natural gas piping during the commissioning and startup phase of construction. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) eventually levied a fine of $16.6 million against the companies that were involved in the explosion (see Daily GPI, Aug. 6, 2010).

The legislation approved by the General Assembly incorporates measures recommended by the Thomas Commission, which was formed following the Kleen Energy accident.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board last year approved a list of "urgent recommendations" for OSHA, the National Fire Protection Association and others, including "the use of inherently safer alternatives such as air blows or pigging with air in lieu of flammable gas" to clean pipes (see Daily GPI, June 30, 2010).

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