The matters raised by the Deputy are operational matters for Bord Gáis Éireann. The company’s gas safety operators are regulated in accordance with the safety regulatory framework established by the Commission for Energy Regulation, which has statutory responsibility for gas safety. I have no function in this regard.
The first incident referred to by the Deputy occurred in May 2010, as Bord Gáis Networks was inspecting the Curraleigh West to Midleton pipeline prior to bringing the pipeline into operation. BGN advises that the gauge used in the inspection showed evidence of having been subjected to abnormally high temperatures. There was no evidence of an explosion and the underground pipeline was not breached. Further testing was undertaken and the line has been re-tested on a number of subsequent occasions and is operating satisfactorily.
Following this incident, BGN commissioned an independent external review of procedures in relation to this incident and, based on the review findings, made amendments to technical commissioning and purging procedures. The national gas safety committee, chaired by the CER and representing the gas industry, the Health and Safety Authority and my Department, monitored this incident throughout and continues to supervise the ongoing BGN analysis into the technical issues involved, which the committee has determined was not a pipeline integrity issue.
Investigations by the regulator and by BGE have been carried out to establish the cause of the gas incident which occurred in Leixlip last January. The regulator's investigation has been informed by work carried out by Burgoynes, UK-based experts in such investigations, with considerable experience in the Irish gas market.
Information not provided on the floor of the House.
BGN’s investigation into Leixlip is ongoing due to legal and other issues and the unavoidably protracted process of interviews with all the parties involved. The completion of the investigations and subsequent findings continues to be overseen by the national gas safety committee. BGÉ operates safety management systems, technical audit and inspection and training programmes across all activities of its networks business which encompass its own staff, business partners and contractors employed for network maintenance and safety works.
Safety is BGÉ’s first priority and the company is committed to ongoing development and maintenance of the gas networks and systems to ensure safety and to deliver continuous safety improvement and performance. I have every confidence in BGÉ’s priority commitment to safety and its safety and emergency response service. There is never room for complacency however, and BGÉ itself is correctly engaged in a constant process of safety review and enhancement, working with CER.