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PHMSA moves to improve safety along gas pipelines

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Pipelines,

Pennsylvania, USA, is home to over 93 500 miles of gas pipelines, and the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is proposing new safety standards. The new standards will finally address climate-changing methane pollution from existing gathering, transmission and distribution pipelines. They also will reduce the risk of deadly explosions and other harmful air pollution.

PHMSA’s pipeline safety standards were finalised in the 1970s and were only written with the intention of preventing explosions.

PHMSA is now proposing to increase pipeline air monitoring efforts using leak detection technologies like optical gas imaging (OGI) cameras that can find leaks before they are large enough to cause an explosion. Unfortunately, less sensitive gas metering technologies previously forced inspectors to wait for a leak to become hazardous before the leak was even detectable.

Shockingly, the pipelines carrying the most dangerous air pollutants aren’t even required to be mapped or patrolled, and minimal leak detection requirements don’t specify what type of technology can be used to detect leaks. Thankfully, PHMSA is proposing to correct these oversights.

PHMSA found that hazardous leaks occur at gathering pipelines at double the rate of hazardous leaks on transmission lines. This is because the same dangerous pollutants that pollute our air, and are more present in gathering pipelines, like carcinogens and volatile organic compounds, also corrode pipelines more aggressively than consumer-quality gas. This expansion of pipeline monitoring requirements will improve air quality, reduce the risk of explosions and expand the growing air monitoring industry, while conserving gas.


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