The Pennsylvania Public Commission is considering building a gas pipeline safety inspector training facility in the state and possibly in the Pittsburgh region. PUC spokeswoman Denise McCracken says the state currently has 8 pipeline inspectors and the only training facility is in Oklahoma City...
"Gas pipeline safety inspectors are going to be need on a more consistent basis throughout the whole state and the southwest region. Any facility that is build would serve as host to not only federal and Pennsylvania interests but interest would be garnered from regional, federal, state and private industries as well."
McCracken says it's difficult to put a timeline on a decision because they are still working on an internal draft proposal and they don't have a price estimate or site yet. She said that so much of the Marcellus drilling is happening in the Pittsburgh region and accessibility is a significant issue when it comes to picking a site for a training facility.
McCracken says the training program in Oklahoma City lasts 20 weeks for a couple of dozen inspectors but the PUC would be looking at a bigger facility.....
"It would be about 2 times larger, we would propose training 50 to 60 inspectors at a time."
McCracken would not say the current 8 inspectors are backlogged
"With growth and expansion of Marcellus Shale (drilling) we absolutely recognize the need for additional hands out there. We propose we would need between 15 and 20 additional investigators."
PUC Chairman Robert Powelson told the governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission a training facility could be developed perhaps at a site Equitable Gas Co.might develop. The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration which oversees gas pipeline inspections would have to approve a new training facility.