Pipeline Safety: Collecting Data and Sharing Information on Federally Unregulated Gathering Pipelines Could Help Enhance Safety, Report to Congressional Requesters   [open pdf - 1MB]

"Pipelines are a relatively safe mode of transportation for hazardous liquid and natural gas and are regulated by the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and state entities. Included in the nation's pipeline network are an estimated 200,000 or more miles of onshore 'gathering' pipelines, which transport products to processing facilities and larger pipelines. (See figure.) Many of these pipelines have not been subject to federal regulation based on their generally rural location and low operating pressures. While incidents involving gathering pipelines regulated by PHMSA have resulted in millions of dollars in property damage in recent years, comparable statistics for federally unregulated gathering pipelines are unknown. This report identifies (1) the safety risks that exist, if any, with onshore hazardous liquid and natural gas gathering pipelines that are not currently under PHMSA regulation and (2) the practices states use to help ensure the safety of these pipelines. GAO [Government Accountability Office] surveyed state pipeline safety agencies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia; interviewed officials at PHMSA, state pipeline safety agencies, pipeline companies, and industry associations; and analyzed data and regulations. […] DOT should (1) collect data on federally unregulated hazardous liquid and gas gathering pipelines and (2) establish an online clearinghouse or other resource for sharing information on pipeline safety practices. DOT provided technical corrections on a draft of this report."

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Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/
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