Florida has "very, very low" chance of gas pipeline explosion similar to California's

The California gas pipeline explosion, which left at least four dead and dozens of people injured, has raised questions about the safety of the millions of miles of other pipelines snaking through U.S. soil.

More than 2 million miles of gas pipelines connect to individual homes and businesses. Another 300,000 miles of interstate and intrastate pipeline serves utilities and power plants.

In Florida, thousands of miles of pipeline run through the most populous communities.

What is the possibility that a gas pipeline explosion, such as the California incident, could happen in Florida?

"Very, very low," according to Cindy Muir, a spokeswoman for the state Public Service Commission. The pipeline that exploded in California was a high pressured line. Florida lines are mostly low pressure lines, Muir said.

Who regulates Florida's gas pipeline?

Florida's largely interstate pipeline system is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Conversely, California's pipeline is virtually all an intrastate system, regulated by the state. At the close of 2008, there was an estimated 4,971 miles of interstate and intrastate pipelines in Florida, said Mary O'Driscoll, a spokeswoman for the commission.

Who operates Florida's pipelines?

There are three primary companies that run Florida's pipelines: Florida Gas Transmission, Gulf Stream Natural Gas System and Southern Natural Gas. Gulf south Pipeline Co. operates a smaller pipeline.

These companies run the transmission lines used to deliver gas primarily to utility companies and power plants. A second type of line, called distribution lines, deliver gas to individual consumers and businesses.

What is the leading cause of ruptured gas pipelines?

Digging on a property without first identifying any underground utilities.

Who do I call to find pipelines around my home or business?

Dial 811, Sunshine State One Call of Florida to have underground utilities identified and marked before you dig.

Ivan Penn can be reached at ipenn@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2332.

Florida has "very, very low" chance of gas pipeline explosion similar to California's 09/10/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 10, 2010 9:54pm]

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