People often wonder about the failures of pipelines in their areas. To help people visualize how often pipelines fail we have created our “Monthly Incident Dashboard” that allows you to examine failure information state by state. We have provided some basic information about each failure such as type of pipeline, operator, cause of the failure, how much product escaped, size and pressure of pipeline, numbers of injuries or fatalities, etc.
The only failures shown on the Monthly Incident Dashboard are from pipelines that fall under the PHMSA regulations, which includes about 2.7 million miles of pipelines. There are at least another 500,000 miles of pipelines that are not covered by PHMSA’s regulations and often are not covered by any regulations at all. These would include many production, rural gathering, produced water, and other types of pipelines. Incidents on those pipeline, while perhaps significant, will not show up on these maps.
Each month we track the largest unintentional release from the three major types of pipelines. You can also find this information and more in our “Monthly Incident Dashboard.”
All of these failures are based on the following definitions in PHMSA’s regulations:
Reportable Incident for Gas Distribution, Gas Gathering, Gas Transmission, and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Systems
Current PHMSA Regulation – §191.3 Definitions
“Incident” means any of the following events:
(1) An event that involves a release of gas from a pipeline, or of liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, refrigerant gas, or gas from an LNG facility, and that results in one or more of the following consequences:
(i) A death, or personal injury necessitating in-patient hospitalization;
(ii) Estimated property damage of $50,000 or more, including loss to the operator and others, or both, but excluding cost of gas lost;
(iii) Unintentional estimated gas loss of three million cubic feet or more;
(2) An event that results in an emergency shutdown of an LNG facility. Activation of an emergency shutdown system for reasons other than an actual emergency does not constitute an incident.
(3) An event that is significant in the judgment of the operator, even though it did not meet the criteria of paragraphs (1) or (2) of this definition.
Reportable Accident for Hazardous Liquids Systems
Current PHMSA Regulation – §195.50 Reporting accidents.
An accident report is required for each failure in a pipeline system subject to this part in which there is a release of the hazardous liquid or carbon dioxide transported resulting in any of the following:
(a) Explosion or fire not intentionally set by the operator.
(b) 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;
- Not one described in §195.52(a)(4);
- Confined to company property or pipeline right-of -way; and
- Cleaned up promptly;
(c) Death of any person;
(d) Personal injury necessitating hospitalization;
(e) Estimated property damage, including cost of clean-up and recovery, value of lost product, and damage to the property of the operator or others, or both, exceeding $50,000.
You can find initial reports to the National Response Center as aggregated by SkyTruth here. Type “pipeline” into keyword search to limit reports to those involving pipelines.
Please contact us if you have questions about our Monthly Incident Dashboard, ideas for improvements, or have other comments.