Pipeline Safety the topic for the May 2018 LEPC Meeting

By Renee Witherspoon, CSP, CIH, CHMM, ASSE SPC Webmaster and Lubbock Co. LEPC Vice Chair

On May 3, the Lubbock County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) hosted a meeting on Pipeline Safety with Jose Ortega, Damage Prevention Specialist

LEPC Chair Clinton Thetford addresses members and guests at the LEPC meeting.

at Plains All American Pipeline in Midland and Brad Britten, CEM, TEM, Liaison Project Manager with Enertech.  There were over 50 members and guests in attendance at the meeting. This was our largest turnout and a cooperative effort between Clinton Thetford, LEPC Chair; Everett Davis, LEPC Membership Chair and Lindsey Diaz, LEPC Liaison/Secretary.

According to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) pipelines are the safest and most efficient means of transporting natural gas and petroleum products. The Texas Railroad Commission require everyone to CALL 811 BEFORE digging.  This call is meant to protect against personal injury, including loss of life, costly property damage, expensive repairs, and legal and civil penalties.

In 2017 27% of all of the accidents were caused because notifications were not made and pipelines were not properly identified. He emphasized the requirements prior to all excavations:

  • CALL 8-1-1 before you dig.
  • WAIT 48 hours, excluding weekends and legal holidays.
  • VERIFY positive response has been received.
  • SURVEY the job site for evidence of unmarked pipelines.
  • DIG with care!

In Jose’s presentation he also spoke about how his pipelines are inspected at least every 3 years to identify problem areas.  Most inspections of hazardous liquids pipelines are conducted by in-line inspection devices known as “smart pigs”.  He showed us a picture on one of these high-tech devices that travel through a pipeline gathering information without stopping flow of the product in the pipeline.

Smart pigs measure all aspects of the pipeline including location of any dents and microscopic cracks.  Once damaged is identified it is located and repaired.

Plains All American also regularly inspects the pipeline route from helicopters and/or airplanes. The pilots look for hazards to the pipeline, such as unauthorized activity in the pipeline right-of-way. All of their pipelines are controlled via computer systems with SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems that monitor and operate the pipeline from control rooms. So if damage pipelines are recognized by the general public, and called in, it is possible to stop a leak quickly.

His company also uses cathodic protection to control the corrosion of steel pipelines by applying a small electrical current on the pipeline that inhibits corrosion.

Brad Britten’s presentation focused on damage prevention and integrity management programs for natural gas distribution, gas transmission/gathering and hazardous liquid pipeline companies.

He wanted to invite everyone out to the next Mock Line Strike demonstration in Lubbock.  This Mock Line Strike provides an actual demonstration on what happens and the consequences of unsafe digging.

The Mock Line Strike for Lubbock will be on September 12, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. at the Lubbock Fire Admin Offices at 1515 E. Ursuline.  There is no cost to attend the meeting, and lunch is included.


Lubbock County LEPC Announcements:

  1. For Tier 2 filers – Verify that your Geo-coordinates are correct for your facility.
  2. May 15-18, 2018 is the Emergency Management Conference in San Antonio.
  3. Region 6 EPA Training Event for LEPC’s with Steve Mason. July 20, 2018. Location TBA.
  4. Mock Line Strike Demonstration – Sept. 12, 2018 at the Lubbock Fire Admin offices, 1515 E. Ursuline.