Natural Gas Pipeline Safety - It's a Shared Responsibility
Serious accidents on interstate natural gas pipelines are rare. But when leaks or ruptures occur, they can cause significant harm to persons and property.
Pipeline safety is a responsibility that’s shared among many people, including pipeline company personnel, the federal and state agencies that oversee natural gas pipelines, public safety officials and -- equally as important -- our neighbors who live and work near pipelines.
That's why YOU are an integral part of the safe operation of natural gas pipelines. If there is a pipeline in your community, you need to:
1) be informed of where the pipeline facilities are located; 2) be aware of activities around these facilities, especially anything that appears to be out of the ordinary; and 3) be responsive by knowing what action to take in the unlikely event of an emergency or the presence of unusual or suspicious activity.
Here's how you can be informed, aware and responsive:
- Find out if a transmission pipeline is on or near your property
- Check the National Pipeline Mapping System Public Map Viewer at www.npms.phmsa.dot.gov
- Look for pipeline markers -- these are signs, located at regular intervals, that include information about the transmission pipeline operator
- Read any mailings you receive from pipeline companies -- if you get them, that means there’s a pipeline in your area
- Use the One-Call System before you do any type of excavation
- Call 811 Before You Dig so underground pipes and utilities are properly identified and marked -- Section 5 provides more information on One-Call
- Excavate carefully around any pipeline facilities
- Inform the One-Call System and pipeline operator of possible unmarked excavation or pipeline damage that may have been caused by digging
- Familiarize yourself with pipeline events and how to respond
- Read the previous page -- In Case of Emergency
- Post this page in your home or business
- Report any unusual or suspicious activities in or around pipeline facilities by calling 911 and the pipeline operator, using the emergency number from a pipeline marker, brochure or other materials you have received.
Our Commitment to the Safe Transportation of Natural Gas
Working together can keep our neighbors, communities and pipelines safe.
We, too, are concerned about any leak or rupture that could harm people or property. We work hard to prevent incidents from occurring.
We are the member companies of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), and it is our responsibility to embrace pipeline safety by implementing stringent safety programs and practices every step of the way. Safety is our core value, and the following principles guide everything we do:
- Our goal is zero incidents - a perfect record of safety and reliability for the national pipeline system. We will work every day toward this goal.
- We are committed to safety culture as a critical dimension to continuously improve our industry’s performance.
- We will be relentless in our pursuit of improving by learning from the past and anticipating the future.
- We are committed to applying integrity management principles on a system-wide basis.
- We will engage our stakeholders—from the local community to the national level - so they understand and can participate in reducing risk.
The pages that follow provide information on how we are working to achieve our goals by monitoring and inspecting our systems, beginning with pipe manufacturing and continuing through design, construction and testing, and operations.
Pipelines are the Safest Way to Move Large Amounts of Energy Long Distance
One way to measure safety performance is to identify the number of accidents involving a fatality or injury. For natural gas pipelines, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) classifies these as serious incidents.
According to U.S. DOT data, natural gas transmission operators averaged five serious incidents per year between 2000 and 2010 along the approximately 300,000-mile natural gas transmission network.
In its December 2010 report, “Building Safe Communities: Pipeline Risk and its Application to Local Development Decisions,” the U.S. DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) noted that transmission pipelines had lower fatality and injury rates than railway and road transportation when hazardous materials are involved.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) performs extensive safety studies in the environmental impact statements (EIS) it conducts prior to approving any new or expanded interstate pipeline. In a May 2009 EIS, FERC’s nationwide analysis indicated there are far fewer deaths on average each year due to natural gas transmission and gathering pipeline accidents than all other categories of accidental deaths, including weather-related, poisonings and fires and burns. FERC concluded that “the available data show that natural gas pipelines continue to be a safe, reliable means of energy transportation.”