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Rockefeller presses for answers on blast

Dec. 12, 2012 @ 11:35 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee whose jurisdiction includes pipeline safety, today spoke with Deborah Hersman, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and a representative of NiSource, the parent company of Columbia Gas, regarding yesterday's natural gas pipeline explosion in Sissonville.

"The pipeline explosion in Sissonville was serious and dangerous, and I'm so thankful that no one was lost or seriously injured. But we're still faced with the very real truth that something went terribly wrong. Homes were flattened. The highway was destroyed. We have to get to the bottom of what happened," Rockefeller said. "I have been in touch with the National Transportation Safety Board as they are on the ground in West Virginia. And I've been in touch with the company as it works toward answers as well.

"Pipeline safety is a serious matter -- one that hit home in major way for our state. I will do everything in my power as Chair of the Commerce Committee to see that transporting natural gas throughout West Virginia is done -- first and foremost -- with the safety of our people in mind."

Rockefeller's commerce committee is in charge of congressional oversight of the safety of transmission pipelines that are overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Immediately following yesterday's blast, Rockefeller was in direct contact with the NTSB and PHMSA to make sure investigations were underway.

--The Associated Press