The natural gas integrity management program, implemented under the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002, is still in its early stages, but it appears to be doing its job to improve pipeline safety nationwide, according to a 21-page report issued Friday by the General Accounting Office (GAO).

The GAO report found that the condition of gas transmission pipes has improved as operators assess and repair their lines. As of Dec. 31, 2005, 33% of the pipes in highly populated or frequently used areas had been assessed, and more than 2,300 repairs had been completed. GAO also estimated that up to 68% of the population living close to gas transmission pipes in highly populated areas is expected to receive additional protection as a result of improved pipe safety.

The report (GAO-06-1-27T) was compiled by Katherine Siggerud, director of GAO’s Physical Infrastructure Issues, who testified before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality.

The Pipeline Safety Improvement Act, which was enacted in 2002 (see Daily GPI, July 25, 2002), requires pipe operators to identify areas where the consequences of a pipeline incident would be greatest, such as highly populated areas. Operators must assess pipes in these areas for safety threats, such as corrosion, repair and replace defective segments, and reassess their pipes at least every seven years.

Through December 2005, Siggerud noted that 76% of the operators (182 out of 241) reporting baseline assessment activity found that their pipes were in good condition, requiring only minor repairs. “Most of the problems found were concentrated in just seven pipelines,” she said. “These results are encouraging, since operators are required to repair defects, making them safer before reassessments begin toward the end of the decade.”

She also noted that there have been no deaths or injuries from corrosion related pipeline incidents over the past five and a half years. Through July, there were 143 corrosion-related incidents over the 295,000-mile transmission system, which is about 26 per year over the past six years.

The report is available at Contact Siggerud for more information on the report at (202) 51202834 or

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