Pipeline Association Blog

Rate of Significant Pipeline Accidents in U.S. Declining

March 16th, 2010

According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) the number of injuries resulting from significant pipeline

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National Pipeline Safety Day Proclaimed

March 16th, 2010

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives recently took action to designate June 10 as National Pipeline Safety Day. The measure that was sponsored by Congressman Rick Larson of Bellingham, Wash. and passed by Congress seeks to promote pipeline safety and encourage state and local governments to observe the day.

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NASA Teams With Industry to Prevent Pipeline Damage

March 16th, 2010

Representatives from the pipeline industry and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have recently teamed up to develop an enhanced pipeline monitoring system. The project, Right‐of‐Way Automated Monitoring program (RAM), was initiated in 2008 to advance the capabilities of pipeline operators to monitor, detect and respond to possible threats to the integrity of their pipeline system.

Currently, transmission pipelines are monitored 24‐hours a day through the use of a variety of automated systems. Aircraft are also employed to inspect pipeline routes. Pilots check for excavation activity, ground movement or any other anomalies that may adversely affect the integrity of a pipeline system. To assist in the detection of leaks and other potential problems along the pipeline rights‐of‐way, today’s pilots also employ the use of highly advanced infrared cameras with built‐in thermal imaging capability.

The RAM project is focused on enhancing current monitoring techniques by utilizing the latest advances in technology to improve the collection of data that is of concern to the integrity of the pipeline system. A thorough analysis, processing and management of data collected will provide the means to enhance leak detection and pipeline security. The overall benefits of such a project are increased community safety and environmental protection.

Once complete, the RAM project will produce a comprehensive technology tool that can be commercialized for pipeline operators as well as other industries to use in everyday situations. RAM project representatives are currently requesting information from those who have innovative technologies that could be used in a project of this nature. If you have information or technology that should be considered by the RAM project team, please contact PAPA.

Always Call Before Digging!

March 16th, 2010

The most important step in planning or conducting excavation is notifying your local one‐call center at least two days (and in some states three days) before digging. You can reach your local one‐call center by dialing 8‐1‐1 from any phone.

This free, easy call will alert underground facility operators, including pipelines, electric and telephone utilities, and cable providers of your planned excavation. The operators will come to the identified area of excavation and flag or mark the facilities. Prior to digging, also remember to check for any signs of underground facilities that have not been marked.

These simple steps will help prevent accidents, improve safety, and protect your community and the environment.

Land-Use Guide for Development Near Transmission ROWs

March 16th, 2010

Associations representing the pipeline industry, developers, local governments, regulators and other community stakeholders have been meeting for nearly two years to formulate standards for land developments near pipeline right‐of‐ways (ROWs). The Pipeline and Informed Planning Alliance (PIPA) was established to develop guidance on pipeline safety and land‐use planning. The collaborative effort targets developments proposed near transmission pipelines.

A draft of the guidance document is now under review by more than 20 stakeholder groups. Two topics to be addressed by the PIPA document are: the proper uses of pipeline ROWs and what information regarding the proper use of ROWs should be conveyed to key stakeholders.

Pipeline ROWs are required to be clear of encroachments to ensure that outside factors, like trees, buildings or certain activities do not impact the integrity of a pipeline. There are land uses that can occur harmoniously with pipeline infrastructure when plans are reviewed and proper permission is secured. Some examples of this include agricultural activities, airports, highways and parks. Uses that are strictly prohibited include the placement of dumps, junkyards or rifle ranges.

Through the PIPA effort, pipeline operators have also developed recommendations for when communication regarding land‐use planning is necessary. The PIPA communications committee has developed a seven‐step process to facilitate the distribution of information to the appropriate stakeholders, including land developers, city planners and elected officials.

The PIPA committee is expected to complete the final review of the guidance document by late 2009. If approved, a plan will be established to distribute the recommendations in the report to impacted stakeholders. For more information on PIPA, visit the PAPA Web site.

Acceptable Activities with Consent of Pipeline Company*:

  • Canals
  • Culverts
  • Driveways
  • Erosion & Flood Control
  • Fences
  • Highways & Roads
  • Retaining Walls
  • Recreational Areas, including:
    • Golf Courses
    • Hiking Trails
    • Horseback Riding Trails
    • Parks

*With prior plan submittal and approval

Prohibited Activities:
  • Buildings & Structures
  • Campsites
  • Catch Basins
  • Cemeteries
  • Concrete Slabs
  • Dams
  • Dumps
  • Junkyards
  • Mobile Home Parks
  • Orchards or Tree Farms
  • Quarries
  • Rifle Ranges
  • Service Stations
  • Swimming Pools

Emergency Response Checklist for Communities and Emergency Responders

March 16th, 2010

You should have the following information available in the event of a pipeline-related emergency:

List of pipeline operators in your community

  • Contact information for key pipeline personnel
  • Maps of pipelines and related facilities
  • The products being transported
  • Location of high consequence areas
  • Access to the National Pipeline Mapping System: www.npms.phmsa.dot.gov

Free Online Emergency Responder Training

March 16th, 2010

Would emergency responders in your community know how to properly respond to a pipeline incident? New online training scenarios that focus on pipeline‐related incidents are now available for emergency responders.

The free online training scenarios were developed to assist fire departments, law enforcement and other emergency personnel to safely respond to a pipeline incident.

The first three interactive training scenarios highlight possible emergencies that can result from different types of pipelines. Through the training, responders learn about local natural gas distribution systems and transmission pipelines, in addition to how various incidents can impact both public safety and the environment. The scenarios take many different environmental factors into consideration, such as the time of day, weather conditions, size of the community and the relative number and individual capability of the first responders in the area.

The training scenarios are available on the PAPA Web site dedicated to these personnel. The Web site also provides information on pipeline operations and response guidelines. Additional scenarios and a complete training video will be available in late 2009. PAPA is also working toward accreditation to grant continuing education units (CEUs) to emergency responders that complete the training.

The training exercises were developed to promote discussion of pipeline safety issues by emergency responders throughout the country. The scenarios can be adapted to local situations in almost every community by any emergency response organization. The scenarios will also help facilitate discussion of tactical options, emergency preparedness and planning for individual communities.

Operators have historically relied on face‐to‐face meetings or relayed information to emergency responders via the postal service. This on‐line program is thought to be the first of its kind in providing interactive online training to first responders.

To view the emergency response scenarios, visit http://training.pipelineawareness.org. You will be asked to register by providing your name, agency name, e‐mail address and state. Once registered, you will be able to access the training section by clicking on the “Training Scenarios” tab at the top edge of the box.

Gathering Pipelines: The Beginning of Delivering Today’s Energy Supply

March 16th, 2010

New discoveries of domestic oil and natural gas are helping to supply the country’s increasing demand for energy resources. The recent discoveries could be the largest in U.S. history and will require new infrastructure, especially gathering pipelines, that collect the material from the production areas for delivery to consumers.

Four primary areas of the country are currently being explored for major deposits of natural gas or oil. These areas include the Barnett , Haynesville and Marcellus Shales, which are producing natural gas, and the Bakken Shale formation, which is producing oil. Each of the shale formations is located in a different area of the country, ranging from Texas and Louisiana, to New York and Pennsylvania, to the northern regions of Montana and North Dakota.

Gathering pipelines are crucial in that they serve as the starting point of the national energy infrastructure. Gathering lines hook up to the well and collect the liquid or gas stream when it is first brought to the surface. The stream is then measured to determine how much liquid or gas has been produced. Gathering lines then collect the oil and natural gas and transport the product to treatment, processing or refining facilities.

When oil or natural gas is produced, the stream of hydrocarbons is often a mix of liquids and gaseous material. A separator is used to remove produced liquids from the gaseous material. Natural gas processing is required to extract natural gas liquids from the natural gas stream. Refining is the process used to treat oil. Impurities like water, non-hydrocarbon materials and other contaminants, like sand also have to be removed. This ensures the oil and natural gas meets certain quality specifications. The products are then moved downstream to end‐use consumers and delivery points via a transmission pipeline.

Gathering lines are different from transmission or local distribution pipelines in a number of ways. Not all gathering lines are buried. Some lie on top of the ground, running between the wellhead and other production facilities. Gathering pipelines can be made of steel, plastic and, occasionally, fiberglass. Steel gathering pipelines are the strongest, but need to be protected from corrosion. Plastic gathering lines must be buried to protect them from sun exposure and other potentially hazardous situations, like fires.

Gathering pipelines are shorter in length, ranging from just a few feet to several miles and they tend to be smaller in diameter and operate at lower pressures than transmission pipelines. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is responsible for implementing rules governing the operations of gathering lines. In many cases, however, a state agency enforces the federal rules. For more information on gathering lines in your state, contact the state regulatory agency responsible for pipelines.

Promoting Pipeline Safety in Schools

March 14th, 2010

Schools harbor one of the most precious resources found anywhere − children. As they grow and blossom into the curious, information‐absorbing creatures who will become our future, children spend a majority of each day at school.

Schools take extraordinary steps to protect the health and safety of their students. Teachers monitor their every action. Visitors are escorted, IDs are checked and fire drills are practiced. Many school systems develop safety plans that require extensive training in crisis preparation. Often this involves interagency and multi ‐stakeholder participation.

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