More than 120 miles of cast-iron natural gas lines still lie beneath streets and byways in Northeast Pennsylvania, an aging infrastructure UGI Utilities Inc. says it is already aggressively replacing amid growing pressure on utilities nationwide to step up the pace.
With the investigation into a deadly gas explosion two months ago in Allentown squarely focused on an apparent rupture in a 12-inch, cast-iron main installed in 1928, a network of pipelines that has been out of sight and largely out of the public's mind for decades is coming under fresh scrutiny.
Just last week, during a visit to the Allentown blast site, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called for tougher oversight of companies that operate the nation's gas and oil pipelines, along with the accelerated replacement of high-risk cast-iron and bare-steel pipes, to prevent future accidents.
"It's certainly a concern," Sonny Popowsky, Pennsylvania's consumer advocate, said. "Safety is the paramount goal of the utilities, or it should be."
All of the natural gas distribution lines in Lackawanna County are owned and operated by UGI Penn Natural Gas, the Wilkes-Barre-based division of UGI Utilities that serves 157,000 customers in all or parts of 13 northeast and north-central counties.
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Danger underground: Aging natural gas lines a concern - News - The Times-Tribune