An Ounce of Prevention

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” states Benjamin Franklin’s age-old truism. This applies to many different facets of life, including pipeline operators, who are committed to protecting their pipelines, just as we maintain our homes, vehicles and other important assets to safeguard our investments.

Did you know it costs, on average, millions of dollars to construct a pipeline in the United States?

Pipeline operators are proactive in taking critical steps to protect the integrity of their pipelines — beginning from the time they are designed, throughout the building process and continuing with comprehensive integrity management programs as the lines become operational. The operator’s ongoing commitment to safety protects not only those who live and work near the pipeline but the environment, as well as the pipeline itself.

Most Operators Take the Following Steps to Ensure the Safety of Their Lines:

Advance Planning & Construction

• Evaluating the potential risks posed to the pipeline under different operating conditions
• Designing the strength and thickness of pipelines to adhere to or exceed standard
• Burying pipelines at minimum depths depending on the type and location of the pipeline
• Coating the pipeline in order to prevent corrosion and damage
• Installing cathodic protection (a low voltage current that runs over the pipeline) to safeguard the steel from external corrosion
• Examining X-rays depicting the welds of pipe connections for any signs of possible defects or cracks
• Conducting pressure tests to confirm the integrity of the pipe before the pipeline becomes fully operational
• Placing pipeline markers at regular intervals above-ground to help visually indicate the presence of the pipeline

Ongoing Preventative Efforts

• Monitoring pressure and flow inside the pipeline
• Adding an odorant with a distinctive smell (normally like rotten eggs or a burnt match) to consumer-ready gas distribution systems so people are able to recognize a leak
• Injecting corrosion inhibitors to prevent corrosion from occurring inside the pipeline
• Participating in local one call notification systems and promoting 811 and “Call Before You Dig” messaging to ensure safe digging
• Making sure that all pipelines are properly marked prior to excavation activities
• Inspecting the interior of the pipeline using current technology at regular intervals
• Maintaining a clear right of way around the pipeline to accommodate periodic inspections (either by foot or by airplane) for any signs of a leak, obstruction or encroachment
• Providing training to pipeline employees to meet qualification standards
• Training emergency responders to recognize a potential release and know how to properly respond