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Survey and Interpretive Review of Operator Practices for Damage Prevention
Damage to pipelines from mechanical excavating equipment is the leading cause of pipeline release incidents and amounted to 22% of total reported incidents from 1995 to 2003. There is little or no evidence that incidents are on the decline as the result of various measures aiming to reduce them.
Both the pipeline industry and the U.S. DOT are making significant efforts to reduce the numbers of such incidents by instituting better excavation practices, and developing and implementing advance warning systems to prevent damage. A recent joint industry-USDOT project has produced a number of practices and technologies for pipeline damage prevention.
Current practices and technologies employed by pipeline operators to prevent excavation damage include ‘one-call’ networks (excavators must call before digging so that buried utilities are notified), preventive practices (patrolling, marking, locating), and technological advance warning systems (aerial or satellite surveillance, physical warning systems, barriers).
The project objectives were to:
- Interview companies with representatives on the PRCI board in regard to their experiences with the effectiveness of the various techniques used for pipeline damage prevention.
- Interpret their responses and evaluate the effectiveness of current techniques – or lack thereof.
- Identify techniques worthy of further investigation.
PRCI has produced a follow-up project in the form of a survey and interpretive review of its member companies, that determined how effective these pipeline operator practices and technologies have been, and identified ones that show high potential with respect to pipeline damage prevention.