Natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines are on track to have a fewer number of mishaps this year than in 2005, according to statistics from the Department of Transportation’s Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS). The number of injuries and fatalities stemming from pipeline failures also are likely to be fewer than last year.

With nearly two-thirds of the year finished, the OPS reports there have been 76 incidents on gas transmission lines so far in 2006, and 77 incidents on gas distribution lines as of late July. This compares to a total of 182 accidents on gas transmission pipelines during 2005 and 171 mishaps on distribution lines last year, according to the OPS.

Unless there is an unusually high rate of failures between now and the end of the year, both gas transmission and distribution lines appear destined to have significantly fewer accidents this year.

So far this year, the number of incidents and amount of damage caused to transmission lines by vehicle damage unrelated to excavation activity, corrosion (both external and internal), heavy rains/floods and malfunction of control/relief equipment have been sharply reduced in most cases. In 2005, there were 12 incidents costing $11.37 million in damages involving vehicles unrelated to excavation damage, 14 incidents of external corrosion costing $89.9 million in damages, 15 incidents of internal corrosion for a total of $6.3 million, 46 incidents of heavy rains/floods costing $57.39 million and 12 incidents of malfunction of control/relief equipment costing $2.3 million in damages.

But for the first eight months of this year, the number of incidents on gas transmission lines involving vehicles unrelated to excavation activity has fallen to five ($322,382 in total damages); external corrosion incidents fell to seven ($907,870); internal corrosion failures dipped to eight (damages remained about the same at $6.3 million); heavy rains/flood incidents totaled one ($60,000); and incidents involving malfunction of control/relief equipment dropped to five ($737,865), the OPS reported.

Total dollar damages on gas transmission lines through Aug. 10 were $34.6 million compared to $252.2 million for the entire 2005, while total damages on distribution lines through July 26 were $161.77 million compared to $495.8 million last year, it said.

Gas transmission lines have reported three injuries so far this year compared to seven for the entire 2005, the OPS said. Distribution lines, on the other hand, have reported eight injuries and 17 fatalities for the first seven months of this year. This compares to 17 injuries and 40 deaths in 2005.

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