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Public Officials Pipeline Safety Newsletter

emergency preparedness & pipelines

Emergency planning has become a critical responsibility at all levels of government. Across the country, governments and first responders help maintain community safety by developing strong emergency response plans. Although operators take steps to prevent pipeline accidents, it is important for communities to be prepared. Read More

how pipelines serve our communities

The invisible highway — is a phrase that commonly refers to America’s network of more than 2.6 million miles of pipelines. In addition to being the safest and most efficient way of transporting our energy resources, the use of pipeline infrastructure results in less pollution, road congestion and damage to roads. Read More

pipeline jargon

Meter stations – Virtually all commodities are measured when sold. Products being moved through a pipeline are no different. Meter stations take readings of the flow and pressure of the gas or liquid in the system. The measurements taken help confirm various aspects of the operations as well as alert operators to the potential of a release.

PIGs – Internal Inspection Devices – Examining the inside of pipelines that are hundreds of miles long can prove a difficult task. Pig launchers make it possible to insert internal inspection devices referred to as “PIGs” into a pipeline. There are different types of PIGs. Some have the capability of cleaning the inside of the pipeline by pushing material through the pipe. Another type of PIG assists with assessing the integrity, thickness and other characteristics of the pipeline. Read More

planning with pipelines: pipa land-use practices

The Pipeline and Informed Planning Alliance (PIPA) initiative was started in the spring of 2008 to focus on issues relating to the impact of land-use and development around existing transmission pipelines. Stakeholders from all levels of government joined with representatives of the pipeline and building industries to discuss how the protection of pipelines should be addressed when considering or planning for development near pipeline rights-of-way. This resulted in a comprehensive guide of best practices relating to activities that should be taken to protect communities while also seeking to protect the integrity of pipelines. Examples of these recommended practices are referenced on page 4 and 5 of this newsletter. Read More

individual pipa recommendations

Purpose: Provides pipeline mapping information for local government agencies to assist with planning and permitting issues.

Steps: Contact the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) at www.npms.phmsa.dot.gov/ and apply for access to the Pipeline Information Management Mapping Application (PIMMA). Read More

know the possible hazards


Natural Gas – Natural gas is the predominant product found in gas distribution pipelines, and with few exceptions, is transported via pipelines in its gaseous form. Like crude oil, it is a naturally occurring resource formed millions of years ago as a result of heat and pressure acting on decayed organic material. It is extracted from wells and transported through gathering pipelines to processing facilities. From these facilities it is transported through transmission pipelines to distribution centers or distribution pipeline systems. The main ingredient in natural gas is methane (94%). Natural gas is odorless, colorless, tasteless and nontoxic in its natural state. When transported via transmission pipelines, natural gas typically does not have odorant added. An odorant (called Mercaptain) is added when it is delivered to a distribution system. At ambient temperatures it remains a lighter than air gas; however, it can be compressed (CNG) under high pressure to make it convenient for use in other applications or liquefied (LNG) under extremely cold temperatures (-260° F) to facilitate transportation. Read More

prevention measures taken

There are many similarities between a pipeline operator and a homeowner. Protecting the value and integrity of a pipeline for an operator is just like protecting the value of a home for its owner. Over time, both parties will invest a substantial amount of time, money and energy in order to safeguard their property from outside forces and the elements. Read More

call before you dig – it’s the law

The one-call notification process has been in place for decades. Awareness of the simple dial 811- Call Before you Dig message has continued to gain acceptance. The simple, and usually free call for excavators, results in underground facility operators being notified that excavation will occur near their assets. The operator of the assets will then mark the location of the underground facility or let the excavator know that the proposed area of excavation is clear of its facilities. Read More

studying for safety – oil sands

Would you be surprised to know that oil sands, tar sands, and diluted bitumen all refer to the same material? Oil sands refer to a type of petroleum hydrocarbon that is associated with sandstone. Read More

locating pipelines near you

Pipelines are everywhere. More than 2.6 million miles of infrastructure connect areas of production to consumption and manufacturing centers across the country. Some pipeline rights-of-way (ROW) are easy to spot while others are less obvious. A hazardous liquid, transmission or gathering pipeline right-of-way is usually marked with pipeline makers that follow the general path of the pipeline. Markers can also be found at road and railroad crossings and at the edge of navigable waterways. Read More

location of customer meters

The meter that measures the transfer of natural gas from the company to the consumer is critical in establishing the safety of the delivery system and usage by the customer. The placement of the meter is important in maintaining safety for the facility it serves and the public. Read More

investment in pipelines

Resurgence in the production of oil and natural gas throughout the country has resulted in the largest build-up of pipeline infrastructure that the country has ever seen. Experts project that more than $130 billion of investments will be required by the year 2030. This amounts to at least $6 billion per year for the next 20 years. Read More

how to get additional information

For more information on pipelines and safety, visit the following websites:




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research & development

Have you ever wondered what keeps buried steel from corroding or how pipelines are monitored for leaks? The Pipeline Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration (PHMSA ) supports an extensive research and development program to assist with the development and evaluation of technologies to improve pipeline safety. Read More