Underground Gas Storage in Kansas Going Unmonitored

The federal court ruling in Kansas resulted in about 11 underground storage sites with the capacity of 270 billion cubic feet of gas going unmonitored.

The legislative assembly complained about the regulations after gas leaked from Yaggy underground salt cavern and flowed underground to Hutchinson, a place almost seven miles away. The gas then cropped up through out-of-use brine wells and exploded. The estimated 143 million cubic feet of escaped gas continued to burn for more than a month.

The gas company that sued Kansas said internal inspections and policies are enough to keep the public safe. They are dedicated to the safe, authentic and effective operation of pipeline systems, related infrastructure, and storage facilities in Kansas and in all areas where they operate. It also added that the moment the gas starts leaking, it has to be monitored every minute and cannot be ignored. If it’s not taken care of, it may lead to devastating gas explosions.

DOT’s Research and Special Programs Administration, the advisory bulletin that is still in force since 1997, concluded that federal safety standards suitable for general storage might not be appropriate for underground storage facilities. The bulletin has requested states to ensure storage safety but does not require gas companies to follow state laws.

Though last year’s ruling in federal court in Topeka limited the state to regulate storage fields that do business only within the state, members of the state House and Senate voted to request the federal government to restore the state’s authority to regulate interstate gas storage earlier this year.

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