Using the deadly pipeline explosion in San Bruno as an example, a top federal safety official said Thursday she is concerned about what she called a rash of pipeline accidents across the country over the past year.
National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman talked to reporters in Washington, D.C. She said it's still too soon to say whether five accidents the board is currently investigating indicate widespread safety problems in the pipeline industry.
Hersman also noted that a lack of manpower forced the board not to investigate several additional pipeline incidents.
NTSB official Steve Klejst told the Associated Press he has only four pipeline investigators in his office. He said it has been a decade since the board investigated a pipeline accident as serious as the one here in the Bay Area.
Eight people were killed and dozens of homes were destroyed when the pipeline exploded in San Bruno.
The National Transportation Safety Board has set aside three days next week to review what is known so far about what happened in the peninsula city. The initial investigation has not found an exact cause. It did find that the pipeline, which was believed to be seamless, actually had several questionable welds. There has been speculation from the beginning that the pipe may not have been able to stand the gas pressure.
The Dow Jones newswire reported Thursday that California regulators agreed to improve their oversight of natural gas pipelines and beef up pipeline safety in the state.