Advisory makes recommendations for preventing pipeline leaks

Washington – A new advisory bulletin from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration recounts one of the largest pipeline spills in the past five years and encourages pipeline owners and operators to take new preventive measures against leaks.

On July 25, 2010, a pipeline ruptured in Marshall, MI. The pipeline’s owner, Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Inc., did not detect or respond to the incident for 17 hours. As a result, nearly 850,000 gallons of crude oil leaked into a nearby creek and river and is blamed for causing nearly 320 people to become ill. The National Transportation Safety Board later attributed the spill to Enbridge’s poor leak-detection training and deficiencies in the company’s program for assessing and correcting pipeline structural deficiencies.

Among the bulletin’s recommendations:

  • Train control room staff on recognizing and responding to unusual or emergency conditions
  • Ensure pipeline leak detection systems will function during transient operations, such as pipeline startups and shutdowns
  • Implement or review public awareness campaigns on detecting and reporting suspected pipeline leaks