Frequently Asked Questions
Are there regulations affecting gas and pipeline companies?
Yes, there are both federal and state regulations. Federal regulations are found in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49, Parts 190 – 199. States may have additional or more stringent regulations, but they cannot be less stringent than the Federal regulations.
What Federal agency is responsible for the pipeline safety regulations?
The Federal pipeline safety regulations are administered by the Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) within the Research and Special Projects Administration of the Department of Transportation. The OPS web site is http://ops.dot.gov.
Is there any recognized guidance available for compliance with the regulations?
The Gas Piping Technology Committee (GPTC) publishes the “Guide for Gas Transmission and Distribution Piping Systems”. This document is approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and has the designation ANSI/GPTC Z380.1
Who investigates pipeline accidents?
Pipeline accidents may be investigated by various state agencies, by OPS, or by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The NTSB is an independent Federal agency that investigates significant accidents in all modes of transportation, conducts special investigations and safety studies, and issues safety recommendations to prevent future accidents. Safety Board investigators are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Its web site is http://www.ntsb.gov.
Are pipelines safe?
Transportation by pipeline is extremely safe. Furthermore, there have been continuing improvements over the years that have made them even safer than ever.
Is damage by others a concern?
As pipelines are becoming safer and safer, more attention is being placed on damages that are caused by activities that pipeline operators have no control over. One-call programs are in operation throughout the country – these programs allow excavators to place one call to a central agency rather than having to call each underground operator. The underground operators then mark facilities in the area of the proposed excavation. The industry has recently formed the Common Ground Alliance to further address this concern. Its web site is http://www.commongroundalliance.com.
Is corrosion a concern?
Corrosion is a continuing concern, although great strides have been made over the years to reduce this problem. In the distribution industry, most of the new underground piping is plastic. New steel pipelines are designed and installed with corrosion control measures that have significantly reduced corrosion-related problems.
What terms are commonly used to describe pipelines?
The pipeline safety regulations include detailed definitions of various pipeline terms, but typically a “transmission line” is a large diameter, high pressure pipeline that takes gas from a source of supply to a cross-country location. A distribution “main” is a pipeline that carries gas along a street. A “service line” is a pipeline that carries gas from a “main” to a customer meter. The pressure in a “main” or “service line” may be low pressure or high pressure, but is usually considerably less than the pressure in a transmission line. The piping after a customer meter, inside a customer’s building, is frequently called a “houseline” or “fuel line”.