Gas Pipeline Safety Requires Good Work Processes and Procedures

By Larry O'Brien

ARC Report Abstract


With all the high-profile incidents in recent years, gas pipeline safety has emerged as a driver for much of today’s infrastructure upgrading and re-placement efforts in North America and elsewhere.  However, this is not without its own risks. 

Gas pipeline safety - Area Impacted by Recent Columbia Gas Accident Depicting Damaged Structures lopmgas.PNGIn just one recent example, we saw headlines about the Columbia Gas pipe-line-related fires and explosions (80 in all) in Massachusetts that killed one person, sent 21 others to the hospital, and destroyed or damaged 131 homes or other structures in the cities of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. According to the preliminary report just released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), this was due to an overpressure issue related to the replacement of an old cast iron, low-pressure distribution line that had originally been installed in the early 1900s. 

This work – performed by subcontractors under Columbia Gas supervision - was part of an ongoing project to upgrade the infrastructure to enhance pipeline safety. Instead, one person died, several people lost their homes, many local businesses were disrupted, and – even now, more than a month following the incident – a large number of households in those three communities are still without heat, hot water, or functioning kitchen ranges.

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Keywords: Gas Pipelines, Safety, Work Processes, Procedures, Process Safety System, SCADA, Knowledge Transfer, ARC Advisory Group.


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