What do the pipeline companies do in the event a leak was to occur?
In order to prepare for the event of a leak, pipeline companies regularly communicate, plan and train with local emergency personnel such as fire and police departments. Upon the notification of an incident or leak, either by the pipeline company’s internal control center or by phone, the pipeline operator will immediately dispatch trained personnel to assist public safety officials in their response to the emergency. Pipeline operators will also take steps to minimize the amount of product that leaks out and to isolate the pipeline.
The pipeline company’s control center may:
- Stop or reduce the flow of product
- Dispatch pipeline emergency response personnel and equipment to the emergency site
- Inform you of any special precautionary recommendations
- Act as a liaison between emergency response agencies and pipeline company personnel
- Help bring the emergency to conclusion as quickly and safely as possible
What do pipelines transport, and what are the potential hazards?
Many pipelines transport petroleum products and natural gas. Some pipelines transport other hazardous products such as chemicals, highly volatile liquids, anhydrous ammonia, or carbon dioxide. Exposure to these products can be harmful if inhaled, and can cause eye and skin irritation, and difficulty in breathing.
Fortunately, pipeline accidents are extremely rare, but they can occur. Natural gas and petroleum products are flammable and potentially hazardous and explosive under certain conditions. Pipeline companies undertake many prevention and safety measures to ensure the integrity of their pipeline systems.
You can obtain more specific information regarding pipelines and the products they carry by contacting the pipeline company directly.
How do pipeline companies facilitate safety, integrity and reliability of their systems?
Even though most pipelines are made of steel, covered with protective coatings, and buried underground, pipeline companies invest significant time and capital maintaining the quality and integrity of their pipeline systems. Most active pipelines are monitored 24 hours a day via manned control centers. In addition, pipeline companies utilize aerial surveillance and/or on-ground observers to identify potential dangers to their pipelines, such as construction or excavation activities or possible leaks. Control center personnel continually monitor the pipeline system and assess changes in pressure and flow along the pipeline.They notify field response personnel if there is a possibility of a leak or release of product. Automatic shut-off valves are sometimes utilized to isolate a leak.
Interstate pipeline companies have developed supplemental hazard and assessment programs known as Integrity Management Programs. Integrity Management Programs have been implemented for areas designated as “high consequence areas” in accordance with federal regulations. Specific information about an operator’s program may be found on their company website, or by contacting them directly.