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  • CRP Project HM-15

    Appendix 1: Contractors Final Report for HMCRP Project 15





    Prepared for HMCRP Transportation Research Board

    of The National Academies


    This document, not released for publication, is furnished only for review to members of or participants in the work of CRP. This document is to be regarded as fully privileged, and dissemination of the information included herein must be

    approved by CRP.

    Charles Jennings Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies

    New York, NY

    Norman Groner Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies

    New York, NY

    Michael Hildebrand Hildebrand and Noll Associates

    Lancaster, PA

    Greg Noll Hildebrand and Noll Associates

    Lancaster, PA

    Rae Zimmerman Rae Zimmerman, Inc.

    New York, NY

    Chaim Roberts Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies

  • CRP Project HM-15

    New York, NY

    Andrea Fatica Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies

    New York, NY

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    C H A P T E R 1


    Communication at pipeline emergency incidents can be complex, and include multiple relational components, which leave significant room for errors to occur during an emergency response. Each of the parties plays an important role, and the effectiveness of communication between and within the roles is crucial to the successful response to a pipeline emergency. Over the past two decades there have been over thirty critical incidents involving pipelines in the United States alone. Collectively they resulted in 84 fatalities, 630 injuries, and losses in excess of $1.1 Billion (2012 dollars).

    The research described in this report focused on communications during pipeline emergencies, specifically, on the content of those communications and where deficiencies in communication are likely to occur. We conducted a literature review of incident reports to determine key communication failures that occur during emergency response. In addition, we used three methods to empirically examine the content of emergency communications: (1) a situation awareness information analysis; (2) an information flow analysis; and (3) a failure modes and effects analysis.

    This chapter provides a basic understanding of different types of pipelines, emergencies related to those

    types of pipelines and the importance of communications during those emergencies. In addition to describing the basic characteristics of pipelines, this chapter also reviews relevant federal and state regulations.

    Selected Characteristics of Pipelines Minor pipeline emergencies occur frequently and are handled safely and effectively by the emergency

    response community. However, there are also pipeline emergency scenarios, such as those involving transmission pipelines that have the potential to quickly escalate to a high consequence event. As low frequency / high consequence events, first responders and pipeline operators are sometimes not fully prepared or cognizant of the effort necessary or procedures needed to successfully respond to this type of incident (Hall, Butters and Armstrong 2012). Pipeline emergencies can be inherently complex events, requiring the coordination of multiple response agencies and organizations representing private and public entities, and having both short-term and long-term impacts that go well beyond the response phase of the incident.

    Analysis of past pipeline incidents has shown that communication in the first critical minutes of an

    event - most often communication between emergency responders and pipeline operators is critical to determining the outcome of an incident. Incomplete, inadequate, or unclear communication can result in a delayed response and can contribute to excess release of hazardous substances into the environment, excess property damage, and human casualties.

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    Examples of challenges to communications include failure to recognize the potential involvement of a pipeline in a release scenario, inability to identify the product(s) that are being released, and not knowing when or who to notify to respond to the leak.

    About Pipelines

    Pipelines are a highly efficient means for moving large quantities of both liquid and gas hazardous materials. An estimated 70 percent of petroleum products travel via pipeline (Association of Oil Pipe Lines 2012). As such, pipelines are a crucial component of America's energy system. Although certain parts of the country have greater concentrations of pipelines, the overall mileage of pipelines is extensive and touches nearly every state. Table 1-1 shows data on pipeline mileage by type of pipeline. The greatest mileage is found in natural gas distribution lines, which are used to deliver this product directly to consumers. Oil and hazardous liquid pipelines account for just over 185,000 miles of the 2.6 million miles of pipelines in the United States. Table 1-1. Types of Pipelines and Mileage (2012) Type of Pipeline Mileage Total

    Hazardous Liquid 185,425 185,425

    Natural Gas (Gathering) 16,288

    Natural Gas (Transmission)


    Natural Gas Gathering and Transmission Total


    Natural Gas (Distribution Mains)


    Natural Gas (Distribution Service Lines)


    Natural Gas Distribution Total


    Grand Total 2,642,691 Source: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (

    Types of Pipelines: Product and Function

    While all pipelines have commonalities, they can be classified by either function or by the product(s) they are designed to carry. In this chapter we provide a high-level overview which explains the differences in pipelines.

    Pipelines by Function

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    Pipelines can be classified according to their function. An illustration of different pipeline functions is included Figures 1-1 and 1-2.

    Gathering gathering pipelines exist to transport raw, unprocessed product from the point of

    production to a storage facility. Storage facilities may receive shipments from multiple gathering pipelines. The shipments are then stored in tanks. Gathering pipelines may be owned by producers of the product. Gathering pipelines can be found transporting crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids from multiple production sites to regional storage facilities.

    Transmission transmission pipelines move raw, unprocessed product from storage facilities to

    refining or processing facilities. Transmission lines tend to be large and cover longer distances. These lines also move product from refining or processing facilities to storage facilities located near customers. Indeed, some transmission pipelines traverse the entire continent. Transmission lines, especially those covering long distances, are often owned by specialized companies whose sole function is the operation of these specialized components of the pipeline infrastructure. Transmission pipelines are of larger diameter, and have greater flows and pressures than other types of pipelines. Because of this, they have the potential for greater consequences during a leak.

    Distribution distribution pipelines are unique to natural gas systems. Distribution pipelines are used to

    connect the source of product from the transmission line, to end-users or customers. Distribution lines have the smallest diameter. While distribution lines are more frequently involved with leaks, the consequences are more limited. Because they tend to be in populated areas, they may be more likely to threaten structures and people.

    Responses to incidents at transmission and distribution pipelines differ significantly. Depending upon

    the response scenario, the differing operating environments and characteristics of each can have an effect on communications needs and entities involved in responding to a pipeline emergency.

    Pipelines by Product Carried

    Although pipelines have many common characteristics, an important distinction is based upon the

    products that they are designed to carry. Different products require different pipeline operating processes and characteristics. The physical characteristics of gases versus liquids will determine operating pressures and flow characteristics. These differences ultimately affect pipeline design and operations. That is, a pipeline designed to carry natural gas would typically not be able to carry a liquid such as crude oil or refined products. However, the same liquid pipeline may be used for multiple liquid products. For example a