At PSNC Energy, we take pipeline safety seriously and are pleased that the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act, signed into law on December 17, 2002, supports and reinforces what we've always been doing.
The legislation mandates significant changes and new requirements in the way that the natural gas industry ensures the safety and integrity of its pipelines. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about our Pipeline Safety Program.
Q. Why are you inspecting specific natural gas lines?
A. While pipeline inspections are an important part of operations and maintenance, our inspection is part of a program we've implemented to meet additional federal requirements set forth in the 2002 Pipeline Safety Improvement Act. This bill establishes more stringent regulations and requires companies to inspect and assess segments of pipeline meeting specific criteria, such as the pipeline's proximity to high-density population areas (cities, suburbs, etc.).
Q. Are the pipelines that are being inspected safe?
A. Yes. It's important to note that we have always performed inspections on our pipelines as well as at related facilities. The Pipeline Safety Improvement Act simply establishes the criteria for identifying pipeline segments subject to more stringent inspections.
Q. What will you do if you find a problem?
A. We will take the steps necessary to make the appropriate repairs. There are specific operational and safety procedures that we follow based on the work required.
Q. How do you inspect the pipelines?
A. We ensure the integrity of our pipelines through both internal (inside the pipe) and external (outside the pipe) testing. Through the years, the natural gas industry has seen the development of highly sophisticated, computerized equipment that is widely used in examining and analyzing the physical reliability of pipelines inside and out. A number of other tests are also conducted.
Q. Will the natural gas supply be affected?
A. There should be no interruption of service resulting from the inspection of our pipelines. However, if repairs are needed, service to a customer or group of customers could be impacted. We always try to minimize any service disruption to our customers.
Q. Why are you inspecting pipelines in my area as opposed to other pipelines?
A. By using the criteria established through the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act, we have identified several pipeline segments on our system that have been or will be inspected.
Q. What activities will be conducted on my property if you have to inspect a section of pipeline located on my property?
A. During the inspection process, there should be minimal activity. However, if repairs are needed for a section of pipeline located on your property, activity could be much greater as crews make the necessary repairs. Rest assured, however, that we will contact you if such work is required, and we will try to minimize the activity and the length of time we're on your property.
Q. Why aren't you inspecting the gas supply line to my house?
A. We are inspecting pipelines that have been identified using the criteria set forth by the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act, which calls for the inspection of transmission pipelines. Transmission pipelines are the larger lines that carry greater volumes of natural gas than smaller distribution and service pipelines.
Q. How long will the inspection of a pipeline take?
A. Several factors, such as the type of inspection being conducted and the distance of the pipeline under review, can impact how long it takes to complete an inspection. Therefore, it's difficult to give a specific length of time.