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State Gas Pipelines Pipeline Accidents

Making State Gas Pipelines Safe and Reliable: An Assessment of State Policy

Outline

NCSL Staff Contact

Kristy Hartman

March 2011 
By Jacquelyn Pless

Pipeline Accidents

Although pipeline incidents have decreased, measures of risk—an increase in overall population, energy consumption and pipeline mileage—have risen. PHMSA defines a serious incident as an event involving a fatality or injury requiring in-patient hospitalization. During the last two decades, pipeline incidents involving death declined 50 percent,5 but 1,087 serious pipeline incidents occurred. Ninety-one percent were related to gas pipelines; of these, 78 percent were related to gas distribution lines.6

Significant incidents—a subset of serious incidents—incur consequences such as fatality or injury requiring in-patient hospitalization, $50,000 or more in total costs (1984 dollars), or liquid release resulting in a fire or explosion. During the last 20 years, 364 fatalities and 3,406 injuries occurred.

To see significant incident data (2000-2009) by state including total number of incidents, average per year, total number of fatalities, distribution of incidents by type of pipeline and total resulting property damage, please visit this chart.  Louisiana data may appear abnormal due to incidents related to Hurricane Katrina.

Federal reporting standards are similar throughout the United States and, although states do not submit reports to PHMSA or OPS, pipeline operators report incidents directly. As pipeline mileage increases, so do accidents; however, the number of significant incidents in some states were more than double that of other states with comparable gas pipeline mileage. The total number of significant incidents that occurred from 2000-2009 ranged from 1 in New Hampshire to 531 in Texas with a median of 30. The data do not reflect pipeline mileage differences between states, however. The next section, Natural Gas as an Expanding Industry, explores key variations and relationships between incidents and pipeline mileage.
 

Significant Incidents (2000-2009)1

Jursidiction

Total

Average (per year)

Fatalities (total)

Hazardous Liquid

Gas Transmission

Gas Gathering

Gas Distribution

Property Damage (total 2009 $)

Alabama

39

4

7

13

11

0

15

$8,317,577

Alaska

21

2

0

5

1

1

14

$13,407,236

Arizona

38

4

2

3

8

0

27

$2,296,511

Arkansas

37

4

5

10

16

0

11

$5,344,660

California

177

18

9

88

22

2

65

$111,273,890

Colorado

43

4

1

14

9

0

20

$18,207,937

Connecticut

12

1

2

3

0

0

9

$6,140,784

Delaware

3

0

0

1

0

0

2

$1,053,705

Florida

24

2

2

5

10

0

9

$8,528,897

Georgia

44

4

1

18

6

0

20

$18,763,347

Hawaii

5

1

0

4

0

0

1

$1,382,826

Idaho

11

1

1

3

7

0

1

$2,834,260

Illinois

117

12

2

66

15

0

36

$58,696,756

Indiana

46

5

7

15

10

0

21

$19,464,585

Iowa

37

4

0

24

7

0

6

$9,884,631

Kansas

118

12

3

75

29

0

14

$61,461,844

Kentucky

29

3

2

8

12

1

8

$62,839,405

Louisiana*

226

23

6

93

101

21

11

$1,134,371,904

Maine

3

0

0

1

0

0

2

$557,885

Maryland

32

3

1

1

5

0

26

$73,996,245

Massachusetts

21

2

4

3

0

0

18

$8,154,568

Michigan

62

6

5

15

12

1

34

$23,586,090

Minnesota

57

6

5

28

7

0

22

$36,095,320

Mississippi

49

5

6

16

24

0

9

$13,863,396

Missouri

42

4

2

14

9

0

19

$17,517,454

Montana

17

2

1

10

2

0

5

$8,991,874

Nebraska

23

2

2

7

7

0

9

$5,015,096

Nevada

13

1

1

2

2

0

9

$6,895,130

New Hampshire

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

$591,190

New Jersey

32

3

2

10

4

0

18

$14,255,769

New Mexico

58

6

15

31

5

1

21

$7,247,444

New York

43

4

13

7

4

0

32

$17,367,582

North Carolina

28

3

1

7

4

0

17

$14,094,015

North Dakota

15

2

0

12

1

0

2

$6,185,034

Ohio

74

7

6

29

11

0

34

$36,556,331

Oklahoma

113

11

3

84

18

0

11

$40,457,734

Oregon

12

1

3

2

1

0

9

$2,671,987

Pennsylvania

117

12

10

26

27

0

64

$70,632,471

Rhode Island

6

1

0

1

0

0

5

$789,362

South Carolina

5

1

0

1

1

0

3

$1,422,874

South Dakota

5

1

0

1

2

0

2

$1,511,823

Tennessee

16

2

0

3

2

0

11

$84,118,516

Texas

531

53

15

345

112

16

58

$364,906,600

Utah

24

2

2

9

3

0

12

$7,443,279

Vermont

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

$205,536

Virginia

38

4

2

7

3

0

28

$51,174,094

Washington

19

2

1

4

7

0

8

$4,992,460

West Virginia

19

2

4

1

12

1

5

$5,819,593

Wisconsin

30

3

4

10

6

0

14

$16,420,926

Wyoming

40

4

3

28

10

0

2

$6,310,816

District of Columbia 

$342,244 

Median

30

3

2

8

6

0

11

$8,991,874

Source: Office of Pipeline Safety, PHMSA Pipeline Safety Program (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation, n.d.); http://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/.

Notes:
1) PHMSA defines significant incidents as those reported by pipeline operators with the following conditions:
a) fatality or injury requiring in-patient hospitalization; b) $50,000 or more in total costs (1984 dollars); c) highly
volatile liquid releases of five or more barrels or other liquid releases of 50 barrels or more; d) liquid release results in fire or
explosion. Significant incidents include all serious incidents.

 

 

5Cynthia L. Quarterman, U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Hearing on Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety: Regulated vs. Unregulated (Washington, D.C.: U.S. DOT, June 2010); http://testimony.ost.dot.gov/test/quarterman4.pdf.
6U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Program, Stakeholder Communications, Serious Pipeline Incidents (Washington, D.C.: U.S. DOT, n.d.); http://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/reports/safety/SerPSI.html?nocache=3828 and author’s calculations.


March 2011

 

 

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