Click here to read the letter.

As Congress prepares to vote on the reauthorization of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) at the end of this month, the Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) wants to be sure members of Congress pay special attention to the primary cause of pipeline incidents in the United States – excavation damage.

To ensure this issue is not overlooked, Aii sent out several letters to leaders in Congress requesting a provision be included in the current reauthorizing legislation, requiring PHMSA to perform a study analyzing the following:

•    The frequency and severity of excavation damage incidents caused by: (1) Poor locating practices, (2) poor excavation practices, and (3) poor communication between the excavator, the locator, and the state’s respective One-Call center
•    Current state laws, regulations, and One-Call center best practices regarding communication and information sharing requirements
•    A comparison of the frequency and severity of excavation damage incidents in states with positive response requirements when compared to states with no positive response requirements
•    If the increased use of GPS digital mapping technologies, mobile devices, easily shareable digital map images, and other advanced communication technological advancements made since the “Dial Before You Dig” Campaign began in 2007 could reduce the frequency and severity of incidents caused by excavation damage

There are more than 300,000 miles of gas transmission lines and over two million miles of gas distribution lines in the United States. With highly explosive natural gas flowing through these distribution lines, incidents can cause serious damage to underground utilities and result in worker fatalities.

From 2005-2014, there were 560 gas line incidents caused by excavation damage resulting in 35 fatalities, 127 injuries and $125 million in property damage.

By utilizing the best available locating and mapping technologies combined with improved communication between all parties and stronger regulatory enforcement, we believe PHMSA can work toward reducing the frequency and severity of incidents.

Letter Recipients:

Sen. John Thune
Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee

Rep. Bill Shuster
Transportation & Infrastructure Committee

Rep. Jeff Denham
Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials

Rep. Fred Upton
Energy & Commerce Committee

Rep. Ed Whitfield
Subcommittee on Energy & Power

Sen. Deb Fischer
Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure