WASHINGTON—The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America today outlined a concrete action plan to achieve the aggressive pipeline safety goals it unveiled in February. The plan includes a commitment to expand pipeline integrity management principles to the entire onshore natural gas transmission system operated by INGAA members.
INGAA’s core guiding principles emerged from a board-level pipeline safety task force, and are anchored by an overarching goal of zero incidents – a perfect record of safety and reliability for the nation’s natural gas transmission pipelines.
“After many months of hard work by member companies and INGAA staff, we are putting real meat on the bones of our plan to achieve the goal of a perfect safety record,” said INGAA President and CEO Don Santa. “The member companies of INGAA believe that pipeline safety must be the pipeline industry’s highest priority, and we believe the commitments we have made today will move us toward our goals.”
One key commitment is the expansion of integrity management principles – currently required only for the six percent of natural gas transmission pipeline that is located in highly populated areas – to the entire transmission system operated by INGAA members. This expansion will be prioritized based on population within the Potential Impact Radius (PIR) along the pipeline. INGAA members will expand the program to 70 percent of the population within the PIR by 2020, and 100 percent by 2030.
Because expanding the program across the entire system will require new technologies, INGAA has agreed to engage actively with the research community to develop new inspection tools and other technology that can address pipelines that currently are difficult to assess. It also will encourage consensus standards groups to adopt standardized processes for using these new technologies.
INGAA members have committed to a systematic validation of records and maximum allowable operating pressure for their pipelines in highly populated areas that pre-date federal regulations. The process will address National Transportation Safety Board recommendations issued in the wake of the San Bruno, California, pipeline accident to evaluate and ensure the safety of member pipelines.
INGAA members also have committed to develop processes and technologies to enhance the protection of both the people and the property located adjacent to pipelines. INGAA members have set a response-time goal of one hour from incident recognition to the start of valve-closure procedures in highly populated areas, and have committed to engage actively with emergency responders and the public to provide information about the existence of pipelines and safety procedures. INGAA members also have agreed to implement the recommended practices of the Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance, a November 2010 initiative to reduce risks and improve the safety of affected communities and pipelines through risk-informed land use near transmission pipelines.