Pipeline companies consider safety every step of the way. They purchase top-quality materials, address safety and security issues when they plan and site a pipeline and ensure quality during construction. Once a pipeline is in place, pipeline companies work to prevent releases by evaluating, inspecting and maintaining pipelines in a program called integrity management.
Integrity management programs generally focus on densely populated areas, but INGAA members have committed to expand integrity management practices to all areas of the pipelines where people might live, work or recreate. We are hard at work increasing the amount of our pipeline mileage that can accommodate an inline inspection device, or smart pig.
We are making great progress in boosting safety. A total of 99.999997 percent of all gas moved safely though interstate natural gas transmission pipelines in 2014. Pipeline incidents are down sharply since the implementation of integrity management programs in 1990, and the number of leaks on pipeline systems have fallen sharply.
Pipeline incidents, while rare, do still happen. Pipeline operators, through training and control room technologies, are prepared to quickly stop the flow of gas in the unlikely event of a release. Operators also develop emergency response plans, deploy resources, and work frequently with local first responders to reduce the impacts of any incident. Member of the public that live near a pipeline are educated on what to do in the rare case of an emergency.
Pipeline operators work with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to determine incident causes, fix problems and pay fines when appropriate.