McCain Appoints Tucson Mayor to Chair National Committee to Prevent Pipeline Accidents
February 12, 2004
Washington, DC – Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today announced the appointment of Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup to chair the Community Advisory Committee, a national committee to advise energy companies, federal and state government regulators and emergency responders on how communities can help prevent natural gas and liquid pipeline accidents in the future. “Mayor Walkup represents the caliber of public officials we need to ensure the standard of pipeline safety that the public deserves. With his time as mayor in Arizona and his personal experience with what can happen during a serious pipeline rupture, he can use his expertise to help prevent any accidents in the future,” McCain said. The committee is one of three strategic elements of the Partnership for Excellence in Pipeline Safety – a program managed by the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) on behalf of the Office of Pipeline Safety of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Two comparable committees consist of senior executives from the energy industry and officials from federal and state regulatory agencies. The three committees help NASFM identify, evaluate and oversee projects that prevent and minimize the impact of accidents involving the nation’s 1.5 million-mile network of natural gas and liquid pipelines. Mayor Walkup has ample reason to be concerned about preventing future pipeline accidents. This past July, more than 16,000 gallons of gasoline poured out of a nearly 50-year-old Kinder Morgan pipeline when it ruptured in Tucson. According to NASFM President James A. Burns, Walkup “clearly brings a special combination of strengths” to the national pipeline safety initiative. “All of us in public safety were proud of the professionalism of Tucson’s emergency responders throughout the Tucson pipeline accident,” Burns added. The public safety community credits Tucson’s fire departments’ prompt response for preventing what could have been a significant loss of life from the incident. As Chair of the new committee, the Mayor’s first responsibilities will include working with NASFM to recruit additional people who reflect the full diversity of viewpoints on pipeline safety that exist in communities, including consumer advocates, other elected officials, small businesses, labor unions, racial and ethnic minorities, building contractors and others. The new committee will begin work early this year, first by helping pipeline operators meet new federal requirements for identifying “high consequence areas” – areas along the route of a pipeline that have specified population densities, buildings containing populations of limited mobility and rural areas where people gather. As a priority, pipeline operators are required to at quickly to ensure that pipelines near high consequence areas are free of defects that might result in an accident.