NTSB Head Pushes Expansion Of Transmission IM Program, Pipeline Accidents Raise Questions, EPA Improves GHG Reporting For Pipelines

August 2010 Vol. 65 No. 8

Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, went further at the Senate hearings. Weimer is clearly in the environmentalist camp, but he is no gadfly. He has credibility as a member of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Technical Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Standard Committee and as a member of the steering committee for PHMSA’s Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance. He argued that only 7 percent of natural gas transmission pipelines and 44 percent of hazardous liquid pipelines are located in high consequence areas. He mentioned that the New Mexico pipeline leak which caused an explosion in 2000 killing 12 people is not in a high consequence area. He acknowledged that progressive pipeline operators already apply integrity management rules to significantly more miles of their pipelines than required by federal regulations.

"Unfortunately, not all companies voluntarily provide these needed safety precautions, and even those that do are not required to respond to the problems found as they would be if these areas were covered by the integrity management rules," Weimer explained.

Pipeline Accidents Raise Questions About Damage Prevention
Two Texas intrastate pipeline accidents in June have turned up the heat on both Congress and PHMSA to address inadequacies in state "one call" laws and programs. The two accidents came up at the June 24 Senate Commerce Committee hearings where senators and industry officials, including Gary Sypolt, CEO of Dominion Energy, who were testifying on behalf of INGAA, called for Congress to strengthen PHMSA's hand on excavation damage.

On June 7, 2010, a 36-inch natural gas transmission pipeline in Cleburne, TX, was struck and ruptured by a contractor for an electrical cooperative that was installing a pole for a power line. An ignition and explosion of the escaping gas resulted, and the operator of the auger was killed. Six other crewmen were hospitalized. On June 8, a natural gas non-regulated, 14-inch gathering line was struck by a bulldozer near Darrouzett, TX. Two persons were killed, one critically injured and three others escaped injury.