Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

2015 Top Stories on Smart Talk: Pipeline locations; Heroin

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Dec 29, 2015 2:54 AM
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What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, December 29, 2015:

The Top Stories of 2015 on Smart Talk series continues.  On Tuesday's program, pipeline locations and heroin deaths are the topics.

The Wolf Administration estimates that 30,000 miles of new pipelines will be built in Pennsylvania over the next two decades. Unfortunately, the development of new pipelines may grow more and more difficult in the future.

Utility companies have been building pipelines throughout the state for over 100 years.  In the past, mapping their locations was not a priority, because there were fewer utilities to manage and smaller areas to cover. If there were any maps of older pipelines, they were vague, based off of visible landmarks that may or may not still exist.

Today, even large interstate pipelines are not being mapped as accurately as they should be. The Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) only requires that interstate pipelines be mapped within 500 feet of accuracy.

This pattern of inexact mapping has led to a lot of uncertainty for pipeline workers. There have been plenty of instances where workers have drilled into pipelines that they did not know were there, leading to accidents, injuries and high repair costs.

Susan Phillips, a reporter for StateImpact Pennsylvania, joins us on Tuesday's Smart Talk to discuss what efforts are being made to resolve the problem. For more information about this topic, check out Susan's StateImpact article at https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2015/07/31/pipelines-paths-remain-a-risky-mystery-beneath-our-feet/ .

Heroin use is on the rise in Pennsylvania, but the state has no standard for determining the annual number of deaths due to heroin overdose. Coroners in each of the state's 67 counties determine cause of death, but in cases where multiple drugs were present heroin may not always be identified as the cause. Ben Allen joins us on Tuesday's Smart Talk to discuss the challenge the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs faces in getting a more accurate measure of the number of Pennsylvanians dying of heroin overdose.

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