PIPELINE SAFETY OFFICE
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Pipeline safety laws fall under federal authority in Title 49, United States Code. Chapter 601 of Title 49 establishes the framework for promoting pipeline safety via federal authority for regulation of interstate pipeline facilities and federal delegation to the states for all or part of the responsibility for intrastate pipeline facilities under an annual certification or agreement.
Ark. Code Ann §23-15-204 empowers the Arkansas Public Service Commission to obtain a certification with the federal government to regulate gas pipeline safety of intrastate natural gas operators. The Commission's
Pipeline Safety Office enforces pipeline safety rules contained in the
Arkansas Gas Pipeline Code.
The Pipeline Safety Office inspects four natural gas distribution utilities,
natural gas operators
master meter gas systems
(mobile home parks, apartment complexes, housing authorities, etc.) for
operating safety, gas leakage, and the control of corrosion. The inspections
ensure that gas operators are in compliance with the Arkansas Gas Pipeline Code.
The Pipeline Safety Office is responsible for 2,081 miles of intrastate gas
transmission and gathering pipelines, 17,692 miles of gas distribution mains,
and 641,830 gas service lines.
The Pipeline Safety Office works closely with the
Federal Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS). OPS
is directly responsible for interstate gas pipelines and all liquid hydrocarbon
pipelines in the state. Our office is in OPS's Southwest Region located in Houston, TX. Each year, OPS evaluates the Pipeline Safety Office's program for compliance with federal certification requirements. The Pipeline Safety Office consistently receives the highest evaluations in the nation highlighted by a perfect score
during the most recent evaluation.
Statistics indicate that transporting natural gas through pipelines is the safest mode of transportation. As long as natural gas flows through a closed controlled system, it remains a safe product. Only when
gas unexpectedly escapes from a pipeline does it have the potential to be a hazard to life, property and the environment. There are many causes and contributors to pipeline failures. OPS compiles data on pipeline accidents and their causes. This data generally indicates that "outside force" damage is the largest single specified cause of all pipeline accidents. Outside force damage generally occurs when someone is digging or excavating near the pipeline. Other causes of pipeline accidents and incidents are categorized and include:
- Construction errors
- Material defects
- Pipeline corrosion, both internal and external
- Operator error (incorrect operation by operator personnel)
- Malfunction of control systems or relief equipment
To avoid a potential pipeline accident caused by excavation, have the location of all utility lines marked before excavating by hand or with equipment. In fact, to comply with
Arkansas state law, Chapter 271, a person must contact
Arkansas One-Call at 1-800-482-8998 a minimum of two days before excavation commences. After Arkansas One-Call is contacted, the following will happen.
- Operators with underground facilities in the area where the excavation is planned are notified. This includes natural gas and power utilities, communications companies, and cities and towns.
- Within 48 hours after being contacted, operator crews either mark their underground facilities with color-coded paint marks or flags, or tell the excavator they have no lines in the area.
If a contractor is performing the excavation work, a person should make sure that his/her contractor calls Arkansas One-Call two days prior to the commencement of excavating.
Chief, Pipeline Safety
Arkansas Public Service Commission
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Revised: Monday, May 20, 2013