Nearly one month after the damaging natural gas line explosion in Sissonville, Sen. Jay Rockefeller on Monday announced plans to hold a congressional field hearing on pipeline safety in Charleston.
Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said Monday he has set the special Senate Commerce Committee field hearing entitled "Pipeline Safety: An On-the-Ground Look at Safeguarding the Public" for Jan. 28.
The hearing comes on the heels of the Dec. 11 rupture and explosion of a 20-inch Columbia Gas Transmission pipeline in Sissonville. It scorched a quarter-mile swath of earth and destroyed several nearby homes.
No one was killed or seriously injured by the blast.
"The Sissonville explosion shook West Virginia quite literally and served as a stark reminder that pipeline safety is serious," Rockefeller said in a statement. "And oversight is critically important."
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the explosion. Officials have said preliminary findings indicate the pipe had corroded and thinned to 70 percent of its original thickness.
Columbia, which is owned by Indiana-based NiSource, has taken steps to restart the repaired line.
But local officials, including Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, have been calling for stronger safety measures to prevent future explosions.
Rockefeller, who serves as Commerce Committee chairman, said the committee would use the hearing to review the U.S. Department of Transportation's implementation of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011.