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One-Call Pipeline Safety Legislation Passed

One-Call Pipeline Safety Legislation Passed

The gas distribution and pipeline industry accomplished one of its major lobbying priorities for the year with passage of "call-before-you-dig" federal pipeline safety legislation. The legislation was attached as a rider on the comprehensive Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, which was passed by the House and Senate May 22.

The "one-call" pipeline safety legislation is an important step in the industry's effort to limit third-party damage to gas lines. Third-party damage - typically damage to pipe by land excavators - is the most common cause of pipeline ruptures.

With a standard one-call program, an excavator calls a central number with the location of a planned excavation. The one-call center then notifies all pipelines, utilities and phone companies in the area so all underground facilities can be located and marked before the excavator begins to dig. While 49 states have one call programs, they vary widely in the level of required participation and effectiveness. The new legislation would encourage states to improve their one-call notification systems by awarding grants to those that meet minimum standards.

The American Gas Association's Roger Cooper, executive vice president of policy and planning, said the legislation is "simple, effective and comprehensive because it gives each state the flexibility to tailor the program to fit individual needs. Although a small part of a major bill, the one-call provision will really help to enhance public safety and protect the environment."

Rocco Canonica

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