Pipeline Safety Record

July/15/2013 5:50AM
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This is a report from the Congressional Research Department.


Pipeline Safety Record

Taken as a whole, releases from pipelines cause few annual fatalities compared to other product

transportation modes.

 According to the DOT, there were 14 deaths per year, on average, from all U.S. pipeline systems from 2007 through 2011.

 Accidental pipeline releases result from a variety of causes, including third-party excavation, corrosion, mechanical failure, control system failure, and operator error. Natural forces, such as floods and earthquakes, can also damage pipelines. There were 140 hazardous liquid pipeline accidents, 84 natural gas transmission (including gathering) pipeline accidents, and 58 natural gas distribution accidents in 2011.

Although pipeline releases have caused relatively few fatalities in absolute numbers, a single pipeline accident can be catastrophic in terms of deaths and environmental damage. Notable pipeline accidents in recent years include:

1999 A gasoline pipeline explosion in Bellingham, WA, killed three people and caused $45 million in damage to a city water plant and other property.

2000 A natural gas pipeline explosion near Carlsbad, NM, killed 12 campers.

2006 Corroded pipelines on the North Slope of Alaska leaked over 200,000 gallons of crude oil in an environmentally sensitive area and temporarily shut down Prudhoe Bay oil production.

2007 An accidental release from a propane pipeline and subsequent fire near Carmichael, MS, killed two people, injured several others, destroyed four homes, and burned over 70 acres of grassland and woodland.

 2010 A pipeline spill in Marshall, MI, released 819,000 gallons of crude oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River.

 2010 A natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, CA, killed 8 people, injured 60 others, and destroyed 37 homes.

 2011 A natural gas pipeline explosion in Allentown, PA, killed 5 people, damaged 50 buildings, and caused 500 people to be evacuated.

 2011 A pipeline spill near Laurel, MT, released an estimated 42,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River.

 2012 A natural gas pipeline explosion in Springfield, MA injured 21 people and heavily damaged over a dozen buildings.

Such accidents have generated persistent scrutiny of pipeline regulation and have increased state and community activity related to pipeline safety.

That’s the list the government came up with to show the worst pipeline incidents. All of these lists include incidents within a city from local natural gas distribution lines managed by utility companies. It’s not just long-transit lines. These include accidents or incidents where Bubba was digging with the back hoe.

One train tankcar accident this month may have killed as many as 50 people.

Over a half million of underground pipelines carry petroleum products to refineries, terminals, and homes. The cost to transport these products to fuel your cars, fly jets, fuel trucks, and heat our homes is nominal. It’s the most efficient mode of transportation at a minimum of 50% the cost of rail. Plus it’s safer.

True, many of these pipelines are over 50 years old and aging. Stringent regulation and contunious maintenance is needed to make sure the number of accidents are minimized. But, just as trucks hauling fuel and tank cars on rails will cause spills and deaths, there will be risk. More people are killed and injured each year by power lines than by pipelines and far more by trucks carrying petroleum products.

If you want cheap natural gas delivered to your homes, lower cost gasoline and affordable plane tickets some risk must be involved.

Despite what your President tells you, as well as the liberal media, pipelines must exist to keep this country going. And, the risk, both in human life and injury and environmental impact is less than the alternatives that are being taken when pipelines don’t receive Presidential approval.

Perhaps you should stop and use some common sense, a rare commodity today, when you ponder risk and reward. Plus, do the research and study the true facts. Millions of barrels of petroleum products move every day through those 500,000 miles of pipe under our country. On a spill per gallon basis it’s much lower than rail. But rail transport is doubling each year as new pipelines from oil fields in the US and Canada are denied.

If you really care about the human toll and the environment, support pipeline over rail or truck. Even if you don’t, you might want to worry about your heating costs and gasoline prices down the road. The oil and gas being discovered here and that coming from Canada is preferable to buying those products from the Middle East. How are things working out for the President with his foreign relations with Syria and Egypt?

Does it ever bother you that no new refineries have been built here for 50 years? Not many new pipelines either. Our grandkids are really going to think we were stupid when they are trying desperately to provide enough energy to fuel their broken economy. They will be looking for environmentalists to throw into a rusting windmill.

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