Desert Gas facility found to have mechanical, procedural flaws

Arizona Corporation Commission’s Pipeline Safety Division inspectors recently discovered potential dangers that might otherwise have created hazards for workers at an Ehrenberg gas manufacturing plant during a routine inspection.

Finding welding-related mechanical and procedural flaws at the Desert Gas liquid natural gas (LNG) facility, the inspectors relayed their findings to authorities, leading to better oversight.

“It is [a] common problem,” Commission Pipeline Safety Supervisor Robert Miller said. “Companies must do their due diligence to assure that the welders are certified to avoid these kinds of failures that can lead to not only violations but safety hazards.”

Desert Gas and the commission reached a safety agreement whereby the company will pay a civil penalty as well as implement new safety procedures. The change presents a potential silver lining: the new safety procedures will actually exceed current regulatory requirements, and when fully implemented, it could make Desert Gas a model for other LNG manufacturing companies.

“Through our working relationships and our high level of communication with pipeline companies in Arizona we are able to get companies to operate safely and efficiently so that they are able to maintain the public’s safety and trust,” Miller said. “Desert Gas has been in good standing in the past, and we fully expect that moving forward they will be in the future.”

The Commission’s Pipeline Safety Division audits 27 companies across the state annually, with its Pipeline Safety Section audited in turn by the federal government. This year’s U.S. Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration audit determined that Arizona achieved a 99.5 percent compliance score. Arizona has consistently scored highly in the past decade, thrice reaching scores of 100 percent.

“Our safety policies and procedures are becoming more and more a model for the industry,” Miller said.

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