For those of us living in New Jersey, the terrible Edison pipeline explosion of 1994 will forever be fresh in our minds. On March 23, 1994, an underground gas pipe exploded near the Durham Woods complex in Edison Township, indirectly killing one person, destroying eight apartment buildings and injuring about 100 people. In a matter of seconds, an orange fireball swept away possessions and forced over 1,000 people to flee their homes. A thirty-two year old woman died of a heart attack as a result of what she thought might have been a nuclear explosion. Since then, increasing pipeline safety has been a priority for New Jersey.
As one of my first acts in Congress, I have successfully secured an amendment in the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act that mandates routine inspections of pipelines. The amendment requires that pipelines be inspected every five years, unless inspections are deemed unnecessary because of more technically appropriate monitoring. I hope that this legislation will go a long way towards reducing the risk of another disaster similar to the Edison pipeline explosion.
Much of the credit for the success of this amendment goes to New Jersey’s senior Senator Bob Torricelli, who worked with me every step of the way to ensure its passage. The amendment now goes to the House of Representatives and I will keep working with our bipartisan New Jersey congressional delegation to ensure its passage there.
Although mandating routine pipeline inspection is the first step in providing a greater sense of security for New Jerseyans living near pipelines, much more needs to be done to ensure the safety of our communities. I will continue to fight for increased safety measures, including pipeline worker certification, strict liability standards for pipeline operators and rigorous right-to-know laws. I have informed the Senate that I will bring these issues up again when and if the House passes the Pipeline Safety Act and its version is reconciled with the Senate version in a conference committee. Stronger enforcement standards are crucial so that no family will ever again go through what so many did that March night in Edison.
Senator Jon Corzine