SPECIAL REPORT 281
Transmission Pipelines and Land Use
A Risk-Informed Approach
Transportation Research Board
Transportation Research Board Special Report 281
IV operations and safety
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance.
This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to the procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.
This study was sponsored by the Office of Pipeline Safety, Research and Special Programs Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Transmission pipelines and land use : a risk-informed approach / Committee for Pipelines and Public Safety: Scoping Study on the Feasibility of Developing Risk-Informed Land Use Guidance near Existing and Future Transmission Pipelines, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies.
p. cm.—(Special report ; 281)
1. Natural gas—Transportation—United States—Safety measures. 2. Natural gas pipeline failures—Risk assessment. 3. Land use. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee for Pipelines and Public Safety: Scoping Study on the Feasibility of Developing Risk-Informed Land Use Guidance near Existing and Future Transmission Pipelines. II. Special report (National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board) ; 281.
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Committee for Pipelines and Public Safety: Scoping Study on the Feasibility of Developing Risk-Informed Land Use Guidance near Existing and Future Transmission Pipelines
Don E. Kash, Chair,
School of Public Policy, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
Bruce G. Boncke,
BME Associates, Fairport, New York
Raymond J. Burby,
Department of City and Regional Planning, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Cynthia Jensen Claus,
Attorney-at-Law, Lawrence, Kansas
Geraldine E. Edens,
McKenna, Long & Aldridge, LLP, Washington, D.C.
William L. Halvorson,
U.S. Geological Survey, Sonoran Desert Research Station, School of Renewable Natural Resources, University of Arizona, Tucson
Robert L. Malecki,
Malecki Consulting, LLC, Binghamton, New York
James M. Pates,
City of Fredericksburg, Virginia
Richard A. Rabinow,
The Rabinow Consortium, LLC, Houston, Texas
Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas
Theofanis G. Theofanous,
Center for Risk Studies and Safety, University of California, Santa Barbara
Theodore L. Willke,
TLW Solutions, Inc., Sewickley, Pennsylvania
Transportation Research Board Staff
Beverly M. Huey, Senior Program Officer
Over the past 10 years, energy demands have increased by about 35 percent, and recent estimates indicate that the demand for energy fuels may increase by another 36 percent between 2002 and 2010. The nation’s projected demand for energy, particularly in fast-growing metropolitan areas, implies that many additional miles of transmission pipelines will be needed. In addition, increasing urbanization is resulting in more people living and working closer to pipelines. Thus, public safety near pipelines remains an issue and is likely to become even more important.
Pipelines, particularly gas distribution lines, are widespread in this country. However, the consequences of incidents that involve large-diameter, high-pressure transmission pipelines can be significant for public safety and the environment. A number of high-profile incidents involving transmission pipelines in urban and environmentally sensitive areas have recently focused public attention on pipeline safety and the need to examine land use practices to determine whether they can be modified to reduce the likelihood and impacts of catastrophic pipeline incidents.
In 1988, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) published Special Report 219: Pipelines and Public Safety, which assessed the adequacy of measures used to protect the public near pipelines. The report examined land use adjacent to pipelines that transport hazardous commodities and methods that could be used to increase the safety of the public in the vicinity of pipelines. A number of damage prevention, land use, and emergency preparedness measures to help reduce the risks due to pipeline accidents were proposed.
The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, signed into law on June 9, 1998, authorized the U.S. Department of Transportation to
undertake a study of damage prevention practices associated with existing one-call notification systems. The study was to determine which practices were most effective in protecting the public, excavators, and the environment, while preventing disruptions to public services and underground facilities. The Common Ground Task Force, which consisted of nine task teams each focusing on one subset of attributes of one-call systems and damage prevention processes, identified 133 best practices. They are discussed in the consensus report Common Ground Study of One-Call Systems and Damage Prevention Best Practices published in 1999. The report identified a wide range of useful strategies in the planning and design phase of development projects, including such practices as underground facilities surveys; clear marking of pipelines; the inclusion of pipeline easements on plat maps; conferences among builders, owners, and regulators; and prior consultations with utility managers by designers and contractors. The report did not, however, cover such topics as recommended setbacks and zoning near transmission pipelines.
The primary objectives of pipeline-related land use measures are to reduce the risk of damaging the pipelines by keeping human activity away from their immediate vicinity and to minimize the exposure of those living and working near a transmission pipeline in the event of an accident. Jurisdiction over land use matters traditionally rests with local governments, which results in wide variations in practices. However, most local governments do not address pipeline issues; when they do, they have few or no data on which to base land use regulations.
The few localities that have attempted to address the issue of pipeline safety have either adopted land use measures that border on being arbitrary and not based on the actual risk posed by a particular pipeline or have been stymied altogether by legal barriers that prevent any local regulation of pipeline operations. This situation might change if localities had access to objective, risk-informed guidance. Such guidance could help them assess the actual degree of risk posed by a particular class or type of pipeline and establish reasonable ordinances and regulations that could be effective in reducing that risk and protecting the property interests of landowners and pipeline operators.
APPROACH OF THE STUDY
The Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002 (Section 11, P.L. 107-355, December 17, 2002) requires the Secretary of Transportation, in conjunction with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and in consultation with other relevant agencies, to conduct a study of population encroachment on rights-of-way. Before passage of the act, the Research and Special Programs Administration’s Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) had asked TRB to examine evidence of the risks to the public of increased development and population in proximity to pipelines; to understand how these risks vary on the basis of differences in product, pipeline characteristics, and other features; and to explore the feasibility of establishing development setbacks that local governments might use to regulate encroaching development around existing pipelines. After passage of the act, the TRB study was modified to assist in meeting the legislative mandate.
Specifically, the committee was tasked to consider the feasibility of developing risk-informed guidance that could be used in making land use-related decisions as one means of minimizing or mitigating hazards and risks to the public, pipeline workers, and the environment near existing and future hazardous liquids and natural gas transmission pipelines. In assessing the feasibility of such an approach, the committee considered such factors as existing or proposed land use and zoning practices; competing needs of compatible uses, including multiple uses of rights-of-way; pipeline design, age, diameter, pressurization, and burial depth; and commodity transported. The committee also considered the various hazards posed by transmission pipelines to life, property, and the environment in the vicinity of these pipelines, as well as the need to balance pipeline safety and environmental resource conservation issues (e.g., preservation of trees and habitat) in pipeline rights-of-way (recognizing operators’ regulatory obligations to patrol rights-of-way, including inspection by air and land). The study did not address security standards, and the committee was not adequately composed to identify them.
Given the nature of this scoping study, the committee briefly considered other industries but did not undertake assessments to determine the generalizability of information in those fields to transmission pipelines. For example, although high-voltage electricity transmission lines are also
linear utilities, the committee does not believe that there is much applicability to natural gas and hazardous liquids transmission pipelines because the factors, the threats, and the costs (i.e., impacts) of failures are not comparable. Because high-voltage electricity transmission lines are aboveground, highly visible, and sometimes audible, there is less probability of third-party damage to these lines than to transmission pipelines.
To fulfill the charge, TRB appointed a committee that included individuals with expertise in management and safety of pipeline operations, materials science, risk assessment, land use planning and zoning, law, ecology and environmental science, and development. (Biographical sketches of the committee members can be found at the end of the report.) The committee required individuals with an understanding of how pipelines are constructed, maintained, operated, and regulated and individuals with technical expertise in materials properties, explosion damage, geotechnical engineering, and land use. The committee met four times—in September and December 2003 and February and April 2004—and a subgroup of the committee met in November 2003.
The work of this committee has been greatly helped by the thoughtful advice and background information provided by all of the meeting presenters (a list of presentation topics and presenters can be found in Appendix A), as well as other government and industry officials who were consulted during the study. The committee gratefully acknowledges the contributions of time and information provided by the sponsor liaisons and the many individuals within and outside government who are interested or involved in pipeline and public safety issues. The committee particularly thanks the liaison representatives Steven Fischer and Jeff Wiese of OPS in the U.S. Department of Transportation and Rich Hoffmann, Mark Robinson, and Douglas Sipe of FERC. The committee is especially indebted to Terry Boss, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, and Ben Cooper, Association of Oil Pipe Lines and American Petroleum Institute, who responded promptly and with a generous spirit to the committee’s numerous requests for information.
In addition, the committee thanks the many pipeline industry, trade association, and state and local government representatives who provided input: Debbie Bassert and Keyvan Izadi, National Association of Home Builders; Sarah Bolton, National Association of State Fire Marshals; Skip Brown and Herb Wilhite, Cycla Corporation; William Roger Buell, Jim Fahey, and Peter King, American Public Works Association; Steve Burkett, Randy Russell, and Steve Troch, Baltimore Gas and Electric; Rod Dyck, National Transportation Safety Board; Stacey Gerard and John Pepper, OPS; Bob Kipp, Common Ground Alliance; Pam Lacey and George Mosinskis, American Gas Association; Chuck Lesniak, City of Austin, Texas; Nick Manetto, Congressman Christopher Smith’s Office; Kris Mayes, Arizona Corporation Commission; Terry Mock, International Right-of-Way Association; Chuck Mosher, Bellevue, Washington; Bob Rackleff, Leon County, Florida; Jim Schwab, American Planning Association; Captain Dean Sherick, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue; Julie Ufner, National Association of Counties; and Jim Wunderlin, Southwest Gas Corporation.
The study was performed under the overall supervision of Stephen R. Godwin, TRB’s Director of Studies and Information Services. Beverly Huey managed the study and, with Stephen Godwin, drafted the report under the guidance of the committee. The committee gratefully acknowledges the work and support of Alan Crane, who provided assistance in the committee nomination process; Suzanne Schneider, Associate Executive Director of TRB, who managed the review process; Senior Editor Norman Solomon, who edited the report; Jennifer J. Weeks, Senior Editorial Assistant; and Javy Awan, Director of Publications.
The report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
The committee thanks the following individuals for their review of this report: George E. Apostolakis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; Steven N. Handel, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey; Chris Hendrickson, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Robert G. Paterson, University of Texas at Austin; Malcolm Rivkin, University of Maryland, College Park; and Bernd J. Selig, Bloomfield, Connecticut. Although these reviewers provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the findings and conclusions, nor did they see the final draft before its release.
The review of this report was overseen by C. Michael Walton, University of Texas, Austin. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
Don E. Kash, Chair
Committee for Pipelines and Public Safety: Scoping Study on the Feasibility of Developing Risk-Informed Land Use Guidance near Existing and Future Transmission Pipelines
A number of technical terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader are used in this report. Some, such as “right-of-way,” are legal terms that normally have a specific meaning differing from their lay usage. In such cases, the committee has chosen the more colloquial usage. Other terms are defined strictly in accordance with their usage in the context of pipelines. Below are the meanings subscribed to by the committee.
Easement. A legal instrument giving a pipeline operator a temporary or permanent right to use a right-of-way for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a pipeline. It may also include temporary permits, licenses, and other agreements allowing the use of one’s property.
Encroachment. A use (e.g., human activity), structure, facility, or other physical improvement that intrudes onto a pipeline right-of-way or in proximity thereto.
Fee simple. The maximum ownership interest one can hold in real estate. As used in this report, it connotes the permanent, underlying interest in the land across which a right-of-way runs and to which an easement applies.
Hazardous liquid. Petroleum, petroleum products, or anhydrous ammonia (49 CFR 195.2), or liquid natural gas or a liquid that is flammable or toxic (49 CFR 193.2).
Incident. A release of product from a pipeline that may or may not result in death, injury, or damage to property or the environment. The
term does not address intentionality or unintentionality of individuals in the release of the product. To many people, “accident” implies unintentionality; “incident” is considered to be more encompassing and includes terrorist attacks, sabotage, and other events that are intentional, in addition to unintentional acts.
Nonconforming use or structure. A use or structure that is impermissible under current zoning restrictions but that is allowed because the use or structure existed lawfully before the restrictions took effect.
Reportable hazardous liquids pipeline incident. An event or failure in a pipeline system that must be reported to the Office of Pipeline Safety and that results in the release of a hazardous liquid or carbon dioxide and in any of the following:
Explosion or fire not intentionally set by the operator;
Release of 5 gallons (19 liters) or more of hazardous liquid or carbon dioxide, except that no report is required for a release of less than 5 barrels (0.8 cubic meters) resulting from a pipeline maintenance activity if the release is
Not otherwise reportable under this section (i.e., 49 CFR 195.50),
Not one described in 49 CFR 195.52(a)(4),
Confined to company property or pipeline right-of-way, and
Cleaned up promptly;
Death of any person;
Personal injury necessitating hospitalization;
Estimated property damage, including cost of cleanup and recovery, value of lost product, and damage to the property of the operator or others, or both, exceeding $50,000 (49 CFR 149.50).
Reportable natural gas pipeline incident. An event in the natural gas pipeline system that must be reported to the Office of Pipeline Safety and
Involves a release of gas from a pipeline or of liquefied natural gas (LNG) or gas from an LNG facility and results in
Death, or personal injury necessitating in-patient hospitalization; or
Estimated property damage, including cost of gas lost, and damage to the property of the operator or others, or both, of $50,000 or more.
Results in an emergency shutdown of an LNG facility.
Is significant, in the judgment of the operator, even though it did not meet the criteria of (1) or (2) above (49 CFR 191.3).
Right-of-way. A piece of property, usually consisting of a narrow, unobstructed strip or corridor of land of a specific width, which a pipeline company and the fee simple landowner both have legal rights to use and occupy.
Right-of-way agreement. See Easement.
Risk-based approach. An approach in which decisions or regulations are heavily based on risk assessment calculations, without other considerations.
Risk-informed approach. An approach in which risk insights are used in conjunction with other information, both quantitative and qualitative, in making safety decisions.
Setback. The minimum amount of space required between a lot line and a building line (e.g., a 12-foot setback). As used in this report, it generally refers to the minimum distance between a pipeline and a building or other structure.
Transmission pipeline. A pipeline, other than a gathering line, that transports natural gas or hazardous liquids from producing areas to refineries and processing facilities and then to consumer areas and local distribution systems.