PHMSA Issues Warning on “Earth Movement”

PHMSA Issues Warning on “Earth Movement”

  • Citing a number of recent incidents, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) sent a warning to natural gas and hazardous liquids pipeline operators detailing the dangers of flooding and heavy rain events.
  • The advisory points to “land movement, severe flooding, river scour, and river channel migration” as causes of the type of damage that can lead to leaks and explosions. It outlines current regulations and details requirements for ensuring safe pipeline construction and continued monitoring once a pipeline is in operation.

The agency issues these types of advisories if it sees a trend; the advisories do not necessarily lead to further rulemaking. In this case, PHMSA says earth moving incidents have increased across the country, particularly in the east.

The advisory does not have the weight of a regulation; it simply sounds an alarm and reiterates regulations associated with pipeline safety. PHMSA lists seven incidents that have occurred in the past several years, including:

  • The release of more than 1,238 barrels of gasoline into the Loyalsock Creek from a Sunoco/Energy Transfer pipeline in Lycoming County in October, 2016.
  • A sinkhole on Lisa Drive in West Whiteland Township, Chester County, revealed part of the Mariner East 1 pipeline. The sinkhole was caused by construction of the Mariner East 2 line, which cuts through unstable limestone. (Rosemary Fuller/Provided)

The advisory is a reminder of existing pipeline regulations such as patrolling and continual surveillance. It is also a reminder of safety-related issues that can result from earth movement and other geologic hazards.

To keep up on pipeline related news, check the Submar blog regularly, we’ll keep you up to date.