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."
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