Building & Maintaining Safe Pipelines

Pipeline operators maintain detailed integrity management plans that include ongoing operations and maintenance activities, right-of-way patrols, in-line inspection, sampling and other activities. They also follow specific engineering, design and construction standards.

Contact the operator directly for an overview of their Integrity Management Plan and details regarding how they build and maintain safe pipelines.

Most operators take the following steps to ensure the safety of their lines:
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 standards
• Burying pipelines at a sufficient depth 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 aboveground to visually indicate the presence of the pipeline

Ongoing Maintenance

• 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 can 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
• 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