Williams investigation expanded after "unusual" trio of gas accidents

|About: Williams Companies Inc (WMB)|By:, SA News Editor

A U.S. government probe into safety practices at pipeline operator Williams Cos. (WMB, WPZ) is being expanded after a natural gas plant fire led to the evacuation of a town in Wyoming last month, the company’s third accident in a year.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board already was investigating last year's explosion at the Geismar, La., that killed two workers and injured 80; after two more recent incidents, the board plans to look at whether there’s "a higher-level corporate issue."

CEO Alan Armstrong says Williams will hire outside experts to provide an independent look at their practices, but the company's capital spending on maintenance has declined in recent years even as its pipeline network expanded.