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At Williams, it's hard to believe that safety matters Oct 30, 2000
Williams pipeline maintenance record in Washington State (see report) is pretty scary.  These are performance standards that are unacceptable for the GSX.

Dangerous Weapons: The Real Cost of a Hit Oct 23, 2000
It was mid-afternoon on a fall day when the 911 operator received the call: "We've got a suspected gas line hit". A contractor working in a residential area in Saanich on Vancouver Island had hit a Centra gas line... more

Regulations Do NOT Make Pipelines Safe Oct 11, 2000
Statistical evidence is emphatic: pipelines are not safe, despite regulatory ambitions to control the industry. And Williams is not an exemplary operator, according to a Washington State/OPS study...... more
Word Document

Pipelines Breaking Rules, Failing: EUB Oct 10, 2000
Increasing numbers of pipelines in Alberta are corroding, leaking and failing to meet government regulations, says a new provincial report. Dennis Hryciuk, Edmonton Journal ... more
EUB Field Summaries Report

Pipeline Safety: Don't Sacrifice The Good Oct 6, 2000
We are the parents who lost children when the Olympic pipeline exploded on June 10, 1999. As we struggled with our own loss, we also have struggled to give meaning to that loss by trying to make pipelines safer in this country... more

Carlsbad explosion killed 12 on August 19 Sept 22, 2000
At 5:26 a.m. on August 19, an explosion occurred on one of three adjacent large natural gas pipelines near Carlsbad, New Mexico. El Paso Natural Gas Company operates the pipeline system. The pipelines supply consumers and electric utilities in Arizona and Southern California. Twelve people, including five children, died as a result of the explosion. The explosion left an 86 feet long crater. Full OPS report

A natural gas pipeline break, minute by minute Sept. 19, 2000
Washington State Pipeline Inspection and Integrity Review Sept. 19, 2000
More Grim Pipeline Safety Stories: Sept. 10, 2000
   Eleventh New Mexico Pipeline Explosion Victim Dies
   Badly Mapped Pipelines Punctured 2 days in a row
Pipe Bombs: Pipeline Safety  August 28, 2000  Text  Word Document


The real story about natural gas pipeline safety

Recently on the CBC Afternoon Show, we spoke briefly on pipeline safety, and mentioned that US statistics are 18 deaths and approximately 83 injuries per year, on natural gas pipelines. The source of this data is the Office of Pipeline Safety, specifically their incident summaries for the last 14 years (Table 1, shown below).

I want to comment on this frightening statistical fact. The highest rate of deaths and injuries are attributable to distribution lines - the ones that run down your street and into your house. This is a tragic set of disasters waiting to be recognized in urban areas in Canada, but it is not the discussion we are having now.

Transmission pipelines, like the GSX, which are located largely far from urban centres, and from people, have a lower rate of injury and death - in the same 14 years, there were 41 deaths and 161 injuries (Table 2). Lower, yes, but still unacceptable.

However, the cost of transmission pipeline incidents is about twice that of distribution pipeline incidents. When those big pipes go, they go big!

What is most revealing, and of greatest concern with the GSX, is that one in three pipeline incidents are caused by "outside forces". This is stuff that regulations, maintenance, and monitoring can do nothing about. It's a tractor plowing a field accidentally puncturing a line, a ship's anchor dragging at a pipeline, an earthquake tearing a line apart.

If 30% of gas pipeline incidents are caused by forces over which we, or the pipeline company, have no control, as is the case - well, that is too little control to permit the pipeline anywhere near your home, your farm, your children. (And let me tell you, the odds are even worse with the distribution pipeline that runs down your street, in which "outside forces" account for nearly 60% of incidents.)

The other two out of three pipeline incidents are due to corrosion, construction or material defects, and "other". It's a high percentage, 25% to be precise. Lurking in those incidents caused by "other", is actual pipeline operator culpability. That's a pretty high percentage.

Table 1: Distribution Pipeline Incidents http://ops.dot.gov/stats/dist_sum.htm
Table 2: Transmission Pipeline Incidents http://ops.dot.gov/stats/tran_sum.htm
Table 3: Incident Summary By Cause http://ops.dot.gov/stats/ngtran99.htm


Bracing for the worst

CHETWYND, B.C. - A major oil spill on the Pine River is expected to hit the town of Chetwynd in northeastern B.C on Wednesday. Chetwynd Mayor Charlie Lasser says municipal workers are trying to protect the community's water supply from total contamination before the spill hits town.

"We're going to see what we can do with our pumphouse and intake," he says. "Because even if we shut the pump down, which we will as soon as the spill comes close, if any oil gets in the pipe, even if it's not pumping, that will contaminate our whole system when we start up again."

A major oil pipeline ruptured early Tuesday morning about 100 kilometres upstream from Chetwynd. More than 6000 barrels of oil spewed into the river.

Two booms have been stretched across the river downstream to try to catch the oil. Another boom is being set up Wednesday.

The reason for the break is not known. Provincial environment officials are now in the area, assessing the impact of the spill, on both the water supply and the environment. That assessment could take months.

CBC Radio 1, Vancouver, August 2, 2000, 8:30 AM

Oil spill 'disaster'
CHETWYND -- A burst oil pipeline dumped as much as 10,000 barrels of oil into the Pine River yesterday, threatening the water supply of this northeastern B.C. region. by Charlie Anderson. Full story from the Vancouver Province, August 2, 2000