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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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1
Introduction

Pipeline incidents,1 population growth, urbanization, increasing energy demands, and increasing public opposition to the siting of new pipelines have combined to focus greater attention on the need for increased land use controls in the vicinity of pipelines and led to the request for this study. The purpose of this scoping study is to consider the feasibility of developing risk-informed guidance as one means of minimizing or mitigating hazards and risk to the public, pipeline workers, and the environment near existing and future transmission pipelines carrying natural gas, petroleum, and other hazardous liquids. The study was requested by the Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to assist OPS and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in developing guidance for use by states, counties, cities, and towns that have existing or proposed transmission pipelines.

BACKGROUND

The United States depends heavily on hydrocarbon fuels and petrochemicals transported through 1.8 million miles of pipelines. The main transmission pipelines,2 which make up 20 percent of this pipeline mileage, crisscross the nation. Many of the largest lines originate on the

1

The term “incident” (rather than “accident” or “event”) is used throughout the report to refer to any release of product from a pipeline, whether or not it results in death, injury, property damage, or environmental damage. To many people, the term “accident” implies nonintentionality; incident is considered to be more encompassing and includes terrorist attacks, sabotage, and other events that are intentional, in addition to unintentional acts.

2

This study addresses only transmission pipelines—pipelines that carry natural gas and liquids from producing areas to refineries and processing facilities, and then to consumer areas and local distribution systems. It does not address local distribution systems or gathering systems.

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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Gulf Coast and extend to the major metropolitan areas of the Northeast and Midwest. The system operates largely outside of the public’s consciousness, perhaps because pipelines are buried and are considerably safer than surface modes for transporting freight, and most incidents receive little national attention.

Although relatively few fatalities and injuries are due to pipeline incidents in the United States each year, such incidents occur almost daily. Most state and local governments do not perceive transmission pipelines to be a significant hazard unless pipeline incidents resulting in death, injury, or extensive property damage have occurred in their communities. Nevertheless, some communities that have experienced or been affected by a serious pipeline incident consider pipeline safety to be an important issue that is currently not adequately addressed.

The regulatory agencies at the national level view pipeline safety as an important issue because a pipeline incident could result in a significant number of casualties and extensive property damage. (See Box 1-1 for descriptions of seven transmission pipeline incidents that have occurred in the last 15 years. The descriptions present a range of effects in terms of number of deaths and extent of property and other environmental damage.) Given increasing urbanization, more and more land development is encroaching on transmission pipeline rights-of-way, resulting in more people living and working closer to pipelines. In addition, the nation’s projected increasing demand for energy, particularly in new and fast-growing metropolitan areas, implies that many additional miles of transmission pipelines (with their concomitant cost, property rights, and environmental and jurisdictional issues) will be needed to serve these areas. Awareness is growing that risk-based approaches to managing pipeline safety should be considered, for the following reasons:

  • The exposure to hazards associated with proximity to pipelines carrying various commodities is not well established.

  • More people are living and working closer to transmission pipelines.

  • Some new transmission pipelines will be constructed in densely populated areas.

The remainder of this chapter provides information on the safety record of pipelines, projections for energy demand, trends in land devel-

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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BOX 1-1

Examples of Transmission Pipeline Accidents

San Bernardino, California

In May 1989, a Southern Pacific train derailed in San Bernardino, California, plowing through a residential neighborhood and killing four people. The train landed on top of a pipeline operated by Calnev Pipeline Company, an interstate carrier that transports petroleum from California to Nevada. Thirteen days after the train derailment and after train service had been restored, the pipeline exploded in the same location, killing two people, destroying 10 homes, and injuring dozens of people.


Fredericksburg, Virginia

Colonial Pipeline Company operates more than 5,317 miles of petroleum pipeline in 13 states and the District of Columbia, with its major lines running from Texas to New York. In the 1980s, two spills of hazardous liquids affected the water supply of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The first spill occurred on March 6, 1980, when a 32-inch petroleum line ruptured in two places, one near Manassas, Virginia, causing the release of 336,000 gallons of kerosene, and a second near Locust Grove in Orange County, Virginia. Before the first spill could be contained, kerosene flowed into Bull Run and entered the Occoquan Reservoir, which supplied drinking water for Fairfax County, Virginia. The second rupture caused 92,000 gallons of fuel oil to spill into the Rapidan and Rappahannock Rivers. The city of Fredericksburg, Virginia, which draws its water supply from the Rappahannock River, about 20 miles downstream of the rupture, was forced to shut down its water treatment plant for more than a week and had to transport drinking water from a neighboring county.

Nine years later, on December 18, 1989, another rupture occurred on the pipeline in Locust Grove, releasing 212,000 gallons

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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of kerosene into the Rapidan and Rappahannock Rivers. Colonial Pipeline Company erected two containment dams and attempted to recover the spilled product; however, these efforts were impeded by the inaccessibility of the spill site and ice on the river. On New Year’s Eve, after a rapid thaw and heavy rains, the containment dams broke, and kerosene flowed downstream toward Fredericksburg, 20 miles away. Again, fish and game were killed, and Fredericksburg’s water supply was contaminated; drinking water had to be hauled in from Stafford County for 7 days.


Edison, New Jersey

On March 23, 1994, a 36-inch-diameter pipeline owned and operated by Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation ruptured catastrophically in Edison Township, New Jersey, within the property of Quality Materials, Inc., an asphalt plant. The force of the rupture and of natural gas escaping at a pressure of about 970 pounds per square inch gauge excavated the soil around the pipe and blew gas hundreds of feet into the air, propelling pipe fragments, rocks, and debris more than 800 feet. Within 1 to 2 minutes of the rupture, the gas ignited, sending flames upward 400 to 500 feet. Heat radiating from the massive fire ignited several building roofs in a nearby apartment complex. Occupants, alerted to the emergency by noises from escaping gas and rocks hitting the roofs, fled from the burning buildings. The fire destroyed eight buildings. Approximately 1,500 apartment residents were evacuated. Although none of the residents suffered a fatal injury, response personnel evacuated 23 people to a local hospital and another estimated 70 apartment residents made their own way to hospitals. Most of the injuries were minor foot burns and cuts resulting from the hot pavement and glass shards as residents fled the complex.

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the probable cause of the rupture was mechanical damage to the surface of the pipe, which reduced its wall thickness and created a crack that grew to critical size over time. Contributing to the accident was the inability of the pipeline operator to promptly stop the flow of natural gas to the rupture. The postaccident investigation revealed “teeth marks” on the pipe possibly caused by excavation equipment. Further excavation of the site exposed a great amount of debris around the pipe including a crushed Ford Ranger pickup that had been reported stolen in 1990.

(Source: NTSB 1995.)


Reston, Virginia

On March 28, 1993, Colonial Pipeline Company’s 36-inch pipeline ruptured in Reston, Virginia, causing the release of about 407,700 gallons of diesel fuel into Sugarland Run, a tributary of the Potomac River. The release caused significant environmental damage and threatened water supplies in parts of Northern Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. According to NTSB, the probable cause of the break was excavation damage that had taken place at some undetermined time. During the 6-year period before the rupture, more than 200 contractors and groups had worked in the vicinity of the section of pipeline that ruptured, constructing a medical complex.


Houston, Texas

Between October 14 and October 21, 1994, some 15 to 20 inches of rain fell on the San Jacinto River floodplain near Houston, Texas, resulting in dangerous flooding. As reported by NTSB, the floods forced more than 14,000 people to evacuate their homes and resulted in 20 deaths. The flooding exposed 17 underground pipelines, four of which broke. Gasoline from Colonial Pipeline Company’s 40-inch pipeline ignited, sending flames down the

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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river and destroying homes, trees, and barges. Because of the flooding, 8 pipelines ruptured and 29 others were undermined at river crossings, and new channels were created in the floodplain. More than 35,000 barrels (1.47 million gallons) of petroleum and petroleum products were released into the river. Ignition of the released products within flooded residential areas resulted in 547 people receiving (mostly minor) burn and inhalation injuries. The spill response costs were in excess of $7 million and estimated property damage losses were about $16 million.

(Source: NTSB 1996.)


Bellingham, Washington

About 3:28 p.m., June 10, 1999, a 16-inch-diameter steel pipeline owned by Olympic Pipe Line Company ruptured and released about 237,000 gallons of gasoline into a creek that flowed through Whatcom Falls Park in Bellingham, Washington. About 1 1/2 hours after the rupture, the gasoline ignited and burned approximately 1 1/2 miles along the creek. Three people died and eight were injured. One home and Bellingham’s water treatment plant were severely damaged. Property damage was estimated to be at least $45 million. According to NTSB, the rupture was probably caused by excavation-related damage done to the pipeline by IMCO General Construction, Inc., during the 1994 Dakin-Yew water treatment plant modification project; and Olympic Pipe Line Company’s (a) inaccurate evaluation of inline pipeline inspection results, (b) failure to pretest all safety devices associated with the Bayview products facility under approximate operating conditions, and (c) practice of performing database development work on the supervisory control and data acquisition system while the system was being used to operate the pipeline.

(Source: NTSB 2002.)

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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Carlsbad, New Mexico

At 5:26 a.m., August 19, 2000, a 30-inch-diameter natural gas transmission pipeline operated by El Paso Natural Gas Company ruptured adjacent to the Pecos River near Carlsbad, New Mexico. The released gas ignited and burned for 55 minutes. Twelve persons who were camping under a concrete-decked steel bridge that supported the pipeline across the river were killed and their vehicles destroyed. Two nearby steel suspension bridges for gas pipelines crossing the river were extensively damaged. According to El Paso Natural Gas Company, property and other damages or losses totaled $998,296. According to NTSB, the probable cause of the rupture and subsequent fire was a significant reduction in pipe wall thickness due to severe internal corrosion. Contributing to the accident were ineffective inspections that did not identify deficiencies in the company’s internal corrosion control program.

(Source: NTSB 2003.)

opment and land use, and safety-focused regulatory approaches. This is ance and how it might be used in managing the increased proximity of followed by a brief introduction to the concept of risk-informed guidpipelines and people. The structure of the report is summarized in the final section. (The events leading to the request for this study and a description of the statement of task that the committee followed in conducting this project can be found in the Preface.)

SAFETY RECORD OF THE PIPELINE INDUSTRY

Pipeline incidents can result in loss of life, serious injury, property damage, and environmental damage, although major incidents are infrequent. For the 3-year period 1999 through 2001, hazardous liquids pipeline incidents resulted in an annual average of 2 deaths, 11 injuries, and $97 million in property damage. During the same time period, natural gas transmission pipeline incidents resulted in an annual average of

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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TABLE 1-1 Approximate Fatality Rate by Mode, 2000

 

Trucka

Railb

Water

Oil Pipeline (Hazardous Liquids)

Gas Pipeline (Transmission)

Deaths

5,282

937

119

1

15

Ton miles (billions)c

1,249

1,546

646

577

276

Deaths/billion

4.229

0.606

0.135

0.002

0.091

a Truck deaths include all drivers and motorists involved in fatal crashes with trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or more.

b Rail deaths include trespassers, motorists killed at grade crossings, and rail workers.

c Ton mile and ton mile equivalent for natural gas pipelines as calculated by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

SOURCE: Transportation Statistics 2001 Annual Report (truck, p. 159; rail, p. 174; water and pipeline deaths, p. 142).

6 deaths and 10 injuries—much lower than in other transportation modes—and $20 million in property damage (OPS 2003).3 According to the General Accounting Office (GAO 2002, 3), “Although pipeline incidents resulted in an average of about 24 fatalities [and 83 injuries] per year from 1989 to 2000,4 the number of pipeline incidents is relatively low when compared with those involving other forms of freight transportation. On average, about 66 people die each year in barge accidents, about 590 in railroad accidents, and about 5,100 in truck accidents.” Table 1-1 provides data on fatalities and estimated fatality rates by freight transportation mode for 2000.

From 1989 through 2000, the total number of incidents in the United States per 10,000 miles of pipeline decreased by 2.9 percent annually, while the number of reportable pipeline incidents (those resulting in a fatality, an injury, or property damage of $50,000 or more) per 10,000 miles of pipeline increased by 2.2 percent annually (GAO 2002). According to OPS, the increase in major incidents over this period can be attributed to growth in the volume of products transported by pipelines (due to

3

To date, no studies have estimated comprehensively the environmental damage caused by pipeline spills in the United States (Pates 1996; Pates 2000).

4

This includes all hazardous liquids and natural gas, not just transmission, pipelines. All pipeline-related deaths account for only 0.02 percent of the 45,000 transportation-related deaths that occur annually in the United States.

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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increased energy consumption) and population growth near pipelines (GAO 2000). The reader is referred to Appendix B for a more detailed discussion of safety data and trends in the pipeline industry and associated safety data tables.

There are many causes and contributors to pipeline failures, including construction errors, material defects, internal and external corrosion, operational errors, malfunctions of control systems or relief equipment, and outside force damage (e.g., by third parties during excavation). Of these, excavation and construction-related damage to pipelines are the leading causes of pipeline failure. Including operator excavation, third-party excavation, vandalism, and other outside forces, such failures in 2003 were estimated by USDOT to contribute 22 and 24 percent of hazardous liquids and natural gas transmission pipeline incidents, respectively. With increasing urbanization, land development activity near transmission pipelines, and the addition of new facilities to serve growing populations, the likelihood of construction-related pipeline damage may increase, and more people and property may be exposed to pipeline failures.

TRENDS AND PROJECTIONS

Energy Demand

The United States currently consumes about 63 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily (more than 23 trillion cubic feet annually), nearly all of which is transported by pipeline. This accounts for approximately 28 percent of energy consumed annually in the United States. The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Energy Information Administration statistics indicate that natural gas consumption increased 35 percent during the last decade (EIA 2003), and DOE projects that natural gas consumption will increase by 36 percent between 2002 and 2010 (DOE 2003; EIA 2003; EIA 2004). The pipeline system will need to be expanded to meet this increased demand. In 1999, the National Petroleum Council estimated that 38,000 miles of new interstate natural gas transmission lines could be required by 2015 to move natural gas from the Rocky Mountain states, Alaska, and Canada (where large quantities are known to exist) to areas in the East that have increasing demand.

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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Each day, about 19.5 million barrels of petroleum products are consumed in the United States.5 In the next 20 years, this demand is expected to increase by 48 percent to 29 million barrels per day (EIA 2003). To accommodate the projected pipeline growth, the availability of suitable rights-of-way will be necessary despite increasing urbanization. In addition, the existing infrastructure must be maintained, and sections of existing pipelines will need to be upgraded or replaced.

Land Development

The primary areas of concern for this study are land use, land development, and population growth around existing transmission pipelines and the need to locate new transmission lines to serve growing metropolitan centers. Good measures of the increase in numbers of people in proximity to transmission pipelines are not currently available.6 However, certain trends are suggested by aggregate statistics.

Major liquid petroleum and natural gas pipelines traverse almost all states, but the greatest concentration is in the Gulf Coast states, where most production and import facilities are located. There are two major transmission line trajectories in the United States. One extends from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma into the Midwest. The other extends through the south Atlantic states into the Northeast, where it serves major population centers such as Washington, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston (USDOT 1990, Figures 15-2 and 15-3). Other lines extend from the Gulf Coast states to the Northeast through Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. In addition, major pipelines extend between California and Texas, traversing Arizona and New Mexico, and from Canada into the northern and eastern states.

5

A modest-sized pipeline transporting 150,000 barrels per day moves a volume equivalent to 750 tanker truckloads per day (i.e., one delivered every 2 minutes, 24 hours per day) or a daily train of 75 rail tank cars. Liquids pipelines can be used to transport a single commodity, multiple grades of a single commodity, or a range of commodities. Depending on its configuration, a pipeline can carry material from a single source or from multiple sources to one or more destinations. In total, oil pipelines transport 17 percent of U.S. freight at a cost of only 2 percent of the nation’s freight bill (Wilson 2001).

6

OPS is building a geographic information system database for this purpose, but it was not complete during the course of this study.

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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Many transmission lines were laid decades ago through sparsely populated states in the Sun Belt and through West Coast states. These areas are now experiencing rapid population growth, raising concern about increased numbers of people living or working close to pipelines. Moreover, many lines that serve major cities and that run through heavily developed areas were constructed in what were then sparsely populated, rural areas. Few of these areas had extensive land use or zoning regulation in place at the time the lines were laid. The fastest-growing metropolitan areas, which now often incorporate their formerly outlying counties, are concentrated in the southern and western states where most transmission pipelines are located (U.S. Census Bureau 2002, Table 30); however, some states (such as Texas) have urban populations where minimal or no land use controls are in place. Examples of metropolitan areas that grew 20 percent or more between 1990 and 2000 are cited in Box 1-2. Incorporated places include many jurisdictions that are too small to be classified as metropolitan areas but that, nonetheless, have more than 100,000 residents.

Incorporated localities that grew more than 40 percent during the last decade are located primarily in Arizona, California, Colorado, North

BOX 1-2

Growing Metropolitan Areas

Examples of metropolitan areas that grew 20 percent or more between 1990 and 2000 include Albuquerque, New Mexico; Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Dallas–Forth Worth–Arlington, Texas; Denver–Boulder–Greeley, Colorado; Fayetteville–Springfield– Rogers, Arkansas; Houston–Galveston–Brazoria, Texas; Las Vegas, Nevada; McAllen–Edinburg–Mission, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; Phoenix–Mesa, Arizona; Portland–Salem, Oregon; Provo–Orem, Utah; Raleigh–Durham–Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Reno, Nevada; Riverside–San Bernardino, California; Salt Lake City–Ogden, Utah; and Tucson, Arizona.

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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Carolina, Texas, and Nevada (U.S. Census Bureau 2002, Table 33). In addition to gaining the most population over the last two decades, southern and western states are projected to grow between 27 and 33 percent by 2025 compared with 7 to 14 percent growth in the East and Midwest (Burchell et al. 2002, Table 3-3). These trends in population growth and the location of this growth imply the need to manage the increasing number of people near transmission pipelines.

Environmental Issues Concerning Rights-of-Way

In built-up communities traversed by transmission pipelines, the right-of-way itself can become a natural buffer between properties, especially as the intensity of development increases. These rights-of-way can become sources of habitat and provide pathways for animal migration. Residents accustomed to mature vegetation can be dismayed when pipeline companies periodically clear trees and other vegetation to allow for visual inspection by aircraft. Companies are required by federal regulation to inspect their rights-of-way on a regular basis; they often do so by using aircraft, especially for properties lacking public access. Without regular clearing of the rights-of-way, such inspection can be ineffective. Tree roots can also be a source of outside damage to pipelines, so allowing mature trees in rights-of-way poses a safety hazard.

The congressional request to OPS and FERC that led to this study included a provision that would “address how to best preserve environmental resources in conjunction with maintaining pipeline rights-of-way, recognizing pipeline operators’ regulatory obligations to maintain rights-of-way and to protect public safety” (H.R. 3609, Section 3609, 107th Congress). Evidence cited in Chapter 2 indicates that rights-of-way can be useful habitat, but little formal guidance is available from federal agencies concerning strategies that protect both safety and environmental features of rights-of-way.

SAFETY REGULATORY SYSTEM

Many federal, state, and local agencies are responsible for regulating various aspects of the design, siting, construction, and operation of pipelines. In addition, specific needs during pipeline operation may require over-

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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sight by certain local or federal agencies (e.g., the National Transportation Safety Board may be involved in the oversight of certain accident investigations). The regulation of natural gas pipelines differs from that of liquids lines. Even within the natural gas pipeline network, the regulating agencies differ depending on the specific portion of the pipeline system (Figure 1-1). This section provides a brief overview of the regulation of natural gas and liquids transmission pipelines.

The areas of responsibility of various regulatory agencies with respect to the pipelines are indicated in Table 1-2. While there are clear lines of authority in certain aspects of pipeline regulation, there may be some overlap. For example, both OPS and FERC may be interested in certain aspects of pipeline operations. Four major aspects of regulation can be considered: design, siting, and construction; operations; special needs; and economic/tariff. More than one agency can regulate the pipelines. Furthermore, in regulating the pipelines, these agencies often rely on consensus standards, such as those of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, the American Petroleum Institute, the American National Standards Institute, the National Association of Corrosion Engineers International, and others for specification of materials, operations, documentation, and integrity management.

The first major congressional action aimed at dealing with pipeline safety was the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968. This act gave the Federal Power Commission7 jurisdiction over the siting of new interstate natural gas pipelines and required USDOT to establish minimum federal safety standards for interstate natural gas transmission and distribution lines. At present, FERC must examine and approve proposed routes of interstate natural gas pipelines and consider any significant environmental impacts. No similar federal approval is required for new liquids pipelines unless they cross federal lands. Some state and local governments address the siting of new liquids pipelines, but many states have no such requirements.

In 1979, Congress enacted the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act— the first comprehensive safety regulatory program for oil pipelines in the United States (49 U.S.C. Appx. §2001). The act gave USDOT jurisdic-

7

In 1977, the Federal Power Commission was reorganized and renamed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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FIGURE 1-1 Regulation of various parts of natural gas pipeline systems.

(SOURCE: INGAA 2003; personal communication, Herb Wilhite, Cycla Corporation, July 12, 2004.)

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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TABLE 1-2 Overview of Regulatory Agencies for Natural Gas and Oil Pipelines in the United States

Industry

Aspect of Industry

Primary

Others

Natural gas transmission —onshore

Siting and construction

FERC

OPS, EPA, BLM, OSHA, USACE

 

Design, operations, and maintenance

OPS

State or public utility commissions (e.g., Texas Railroad Commission)

 

Special needs (incidents, sensitive sites, etc.)

NTSB

OSHA, EPA, Homeland Security

 

Economic/ tariff

FERC

 

Natural gas transmission—offshore

Design, construction, operations, and maintenance

OPS

State public utilities, USCG, NOAA, FWS, OSHA

 

Siting

MMS

FERC

Liquids transmission —onshore

Design, siting, and construction

OPS

BLM, EPA, OSHA, USACE

 

Operations

OPS

EPA, state or local

 

Special needs (incidents, sensitive sites, etc.)

NTSB, EPA

OSHA, Homeland Security

 

 

Economic/ tariff

FERC

 

Liquids transmission—offshore

Design, construction, operations, and maintenance

OPS

State public utilities, USCG, NOAA, FWS, OSHA

 

Siting and oil spill prevention

MMS

 

 

Special needs (incidents, sensitive sites, etc.)

NTSB, EPA

OSHA, Homeland Security

 

Economic/tariff

MMS

FERC

NOTE: BLM = Bureau of Land Management, EPA = Environmental Protection Agency, FERC = Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FWS = Fish and Wildlife Service, MMS = Minerals Management Service, NOAA = National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NTSB = National Transportation Safety Board, OPS = Office of Pipeline Safety, OSHA = Occupational Safety and Health Administration, USACE = U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, USCG = U.S.Coast Guard.

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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tion to regulate the design, construction, maintenance, and operation of intrastate and interstate hazardous liquids pipelines. It allows a limited degree of shared governmental responsibility for pipeline safety by permitting OPS to certify states to perform inspection and administrative duties.

The Pipeline Safety Act of 1992 extended USDOT’s authority over natural gas and hazardous liquids pipelines to include protection of the environment as part of its mission and identified specific issues that were to be addressed. This act provided OPS, whose mission is “to ensure the safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of the nation’s pipeline transportation system,” an opportunity to establish more stringent safety standards and environmental protection measures for high-risk areas. OPS, thus, is mandated to regulate hazardous liquids, gas transmission, and gas distribution pipelines, as well as liquefied natural gas operators (CFR Parts 192 and 195).

OPS has no authority over land use practices outside of pipeline rights-of-way. However, it attempts to reduce the dangers posed to people who live and work near transmission pipelines by, for example, requiring more stringent design (e.g., thicker pipeline wall) and operating (e.g., reduced pressurization) standards for a natural gas pipeline in areas of high building density and by requiring additional depth of cover for new liquids pipelines located within 50 feet of private dwellings, industrial buildings, and places of assembly.

At present, the OPS pipeline safety program has a number of elements: regulatory development (including implementation of the Integrity Management Program), inspection and enforcement, the state pipeline safety grant program, research and development, damage prevention and public education, training, oil spill preparedness and response, and data analysis and trending. The Integrity Management Program is a new regulatory approach that requires pipeline operators to comprehensively assess, identify, and address, where necessary, the safety of pipeline segments that are located in areas where the consequences of a pipeline failure could be significant (i.e., where a leak or rupture would have the greatest impact). These areas are called “high consequence areas” (GAO 2002). Under this program, “pipeline operators are required to, among other things, identify all segments of the pipeline that pass through a high consequence area,

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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conduct a baseline assessment of the integrity of these segments, address any safety issues, reassess the integrity of the pipeline at intervals not to exceed 5 years, and establish performance measures to measure the program’s effectiveness” (GAO 2001, 5). This program includes new, rigorous testing requirements; repair and mitigation requirements for transmission pipelines; a risk-based approach to focusing attention; and expanded and enhanced oversight.

State and local governments have a more limited role in pipeline safety. States have jurisdiction over the safety regulation of intrastate pipelines. Under provisions of federal law, states can act as agents of the federal government in some areas of interstate pipeline regulation, such as in safety inspections. Local governments are largely restricted to regulating land uses near pipelines. Neither state nor local regulation of interstate pipeline operations can supersede that of the federal government.

A RISK-INFORMED APPROACH

The local government approach to pipeline safety is currently either non-existent or developed in response to specific incidents. (See Box 1-3 for a description of approaches used in Bellingham, Washington, and Austin, Texas.) A better approach is needed to manage effectively the risks to the public and to pipelines. The purpose of this study is to determine whether a risk-informed approach could be an effective tool in making land use decisions to manage or reduce the risks associated with pipeline failures.

Sound risk assessment practice attempts to answer the following questions:

  • What can go wrong?

  • How likely is it?

  • What are the consequences?

The result of the risk assessment process is often termed “risk insights,” which can be used in decision making or in regulation. Advances in risk assessment methods have resulted in the implementation of regulations that consider the three questions. The regulatory approaches can be risk-based, risk-informed, risk-informed performance-based, or other variations of these.

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." Transportation Research Board. 2004. Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach -- Special Report 281. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11046.
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BOX 1-3

Land Use Approaches in Bellingham, Washington, and Austin, Texas, in Response to Pipeline Incidents

Bellingham, Washington, Example

Following the deaths of three boys resulting from a ruptured gasoline transmission line and the subsequent ignition of the fuel in June 1999 in Bellingham, Washington, the community and state began addressing the need for more effective state and local scrutiny of pipeline operations. One of the outgrowths of that effort was a directive by the state legislature that a model ordinance be developed for consideration and use by local governments (Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington n.d.). The model ordinance recommends a minimum setback of 50 feet for hazardous liquids. For gas transmission lines, in contrast, it recommends setback distances “consistent with the hazard area radius” for pipelines of various diameters and pressurization that were developed in a report for the Gas Research Institute (Stephens 2000). Furthermore, it would require setback distances to be doubled for buildings where the public gathers for education, recreation, sports, conventions, hospitalization, or worship. OPS has ruled that these setbacks would exceed federal requirements and are therefore preempted by federal law.

The model ordinance also encourages local government to exercise more influence over pipeline operators through the negotiations that accompany the granting of franchise agreements. The ordinance outlines a number of requirements too detailed to summarize here. Worth noting are the provisions related to construction in or near rights-of-way: in general they would require grantees to develop and implement detailed plans for closely monitoring and reporting on any excavation activity in the right-of-way.

Other outgrowths of the Bellingham incident include the development of an active citizen action group, Safe Bellingham (www.safebellingham.org), and the Washington City and County

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Safety Consortium (www.pipelinesafetyconsortium.org), a collection of local governments in Washington State concerned about pipeline safety. Both organizations have developed websites that include technical reports, press releases, letters, testimony, links, and other materials of interest to concerned citizens and public officials.


Austin, Texas, Example

The city of Austin developed a new, more aggressive ordinance concerning transmission pipelines in response to a proposal in 2000 by Longhorn Partners Pipeline LP to convert a crude oil pipeline traversing the city to one for shipping refined petroleum products. The pipeline runs through a heavily populated area in south Austin and through the environmentally sensitive drinking water protection zone. The ordinance is a three-part performance-based approach that applies to areas near hazardous liquids pipelines: (a) subdivision requirements, (b) zoning uses/site plan construction, and (c) financial responsibility. Subdivision requirements prohibit platted lots or structures within the pipeline easement and specify minimum setbacks for special populations (e.g., those with limited mobility). The zoning uses part establishes requirements within 200 and 500 feet of the pipeline. These distances are based on fire modeling and development requirements set to meet fire safety standards. For example, the ordinance bans new buildings within 25 feet of a hazardous liquids pipeline and increases construction and building standards on most structures within 200 feet of a pipeline. The ordinance forbids new structures requiring extra evacuation assistance, such as schools and hospitals, within 200 feet of a pipeline. A council-approved variance is required for such structures within 500 feet of a pipeline. The city’s attempt to force the pipeline operator to carry at least $90 million in accident insurance, the third part of the ordinance, was struck down in federal court in October 2003. The ordinance’s other pro

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visions, however, remain intact. The ordinance does not apply to structures existing before April 21, 2003; these preexisting structures may be repaired, rebuilt, or added to without complying with ordinance structural requirements.

In the risk-based approach, decisions or regulations are heavily based on risk assessment calculations, without other considerations. Because such an approach places a heavy burden on risk computation, which may suffer from lack of data or models or imperfect consideration of scenarios, its application is limited. In the risk-informed approach, risk insights are used in conjunction with other information, both quantitative and qualitative, in making safety decisions. Because it allows for the logical structuring of decisions by including relevant factors, the risk-informed approach is of more practical value.

To determine how to maximize safe and economic regulation of pipelines, the complete pipeline system and its environs must be considered. Doing so provides a balanced view of the interaction among the various components involved in pipeline operations. Effective use of a risk-informed approach requires an understanding of the relevant factors and the relationships among them. Managing the risks associated with pipeline siting and operations may be more effective when there is involvement and a shared commitment among interested parties— policy makers, planners and system design experts, public works officials, pipeline companies, property owners, and trade associations—as well as effective communication, training, and procedures.

STRUCTURE OF THE REPORT

An overview of approaches that are being used to manage land use near transmission pipelines at the state and local levels is contained in Chapter 2.

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A risk management framework for pipelines and the risk communication process needed to raise the level of understanding of relevant issues or actions among the various stakeholders are described in Chapter 3. In Chapter 4, the committee’s findings, conclusions, and recommendations addressing the feasibility of developing risk-informed guidance that could be used in making land use–related decisions to manage risks to the public, pipeline workers, and the environment near existing as well as future transmission pipelines are given. Pipeline safety data and trends and information about the pipeline industries in the United States can be found in Appendices B and C, respectively.

In this report a basis is provided for additional work to further develop promising approaches for governments to use in minimizing or mitigating hazards from incidents involving natural gas and liquids transmission pipelines. The report is not intended to provide answers. Rather, it provides a high-level perspective on how those answers might be provided.

REFERENCES

Abbreviations

DOE Department of Energy

EIA Energy Information Administration

GAO General Accounting Office

INGAA Interstate Natural Gas Association of America

NTSB National Transportation Safety Board

OPS Office of Pipeline Safety

USDOT U.S. Department of Transportation

Burchell, R. W., G. Lowenstein, W. R. Dolphin, C. C. Galley, A. Downs, S. Seskin, K. G. Still, and T. Moore. 2002. TCRP Report 74: Costs of Sprawl—2000. Transportation Research Board, National Research Council, Washington, D.C.

DOE. 2003. Natural Gas Fundamentals from Resource to Market. Washington, D.C.

EIA. 2003. Energy Outlook 2003. www.eia.doe.gov.

EIA. 2004. www.eia.doe.gov/neic/quickfacts/quickgas.htm.

GAO. 2000. Pipeline Safety: The Office of Pipeline Safety Is Changing How It Oversees the Pipeline Industry. Report to the Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Commerce, House of Representatives. GAO/RCED-00-128. Washington, D.C., May.

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GAO. 2001. Pipeline Safety—Progress Made but Significant Requirements and Recommendations Not Yet Complete. GAO-01-1075. Washington, D.C., Sept.

GAO. 2002. Pipeline Safety: Status of Improving Oversight of the Pipeline Industry. GAO-02-517T. Washington, D.C., March.

INGAA. 2003. www.ingaa.org/images/main/fromthewellhead.gif.

Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington. n.d. Model Setback and Depth Requirements Ordinance for Transmission Pipelines. www.msrc.org.

NTSB. 1995. Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation Natural Gas Pipeline Explosion and Fire, Edison, New Jersey, March 23, 1994. Pipeline Accident Report. PB95-916501, NTSB/PAR-95/01. Washington, D.C.

NTSB. 1996. Evaluation of Pipeline Failures During Flooding and of Spill Response Actions, San Jacinto River Near Houston, Texas, October 1994. Pipeline Special Investigation Report. PB96-917004, NTSB/SIR-96/04. Washington, D.C.

NTSB. 2002. Pipeline Rupture and Subsequent Fire in Bellingham, Washington, June 10, 1999. Pipeline Accident Report. PB2002-916502, NTSB/PAR-02/02. Washington, D.C.

NTSB. 2003. Natural Gas Pipeline Rupture and Fire near Carlsbad, New Mexico, August 19, 2000. Pipeline Accident Report. PB2003-916501, NTSB/PAR-03/01. Washington, D.C.

OPS. 2003. Pipeline Safety Statistics. primis.rspa.dot.gov/pipelineInfo/safety.htm.

Pates, J. 1996. Out of Sight, Out of Mind: What Every Local Government Should Know About Pipeline Safety. Talk given before the International Municipal Attorneys Association, Little Rock, Ark., Oct. 8.

Pates, J. M. 2000. Testimony on behalf of the National Pipeline Reform Coalition before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. May 11.

Stephens, M. J. 2000. A Model for Sizing High Consequence Areas Associated with Natural Gas Pipelines. GRI-00/0189. Gas Research Institute, Oct.

U.S. Census Bureau. 2002. Statistical Abstract of the United States. U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C.

USDOT. 1990. National Transportation Strategic Planning Study. Washington, D.C., March.

Wilson, R. A. 2001. Transportation in America, 18th ed. Eno Transportation Foundation, Inc., Washington, D.C.

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TRB Special Report 281: Transmission Pipelines and Land Use: A Risk-Informed Approach calls upon the U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Pipeline Safety in the Research and Special Programs Administration to work with stakeholders in developing risk-informed land use guidance for use by policy makers, planners, local officials, and the public.

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