The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Web page tells us something we already know: transmission pipeline failures present risks that may impact people, property, the environment, and economies beyond the edges of pipeline rights-of-way. PHMSA offers a number of suggestions to increase community resilience from pipeline hazards, including understanding pipeline risks and their application to local development decisions, ways to manage development near pipelines, and a number of land use ordinances to hinder future pipeline development.
Perhaps we should not be surprised that Dominion and FERC seem to ignore the majority of PHMSA recommendations. Example: PHMSA suggests local governments enact ordinances prohibiting development within 660 feet of a pipeline, but in a number of places Dominion has routed the ACP a mere 50 feet from currently inhabited buildings. (Take note that the house that was completely destroyed in the 29 April 2016 30-inch gas line explosion in Pennsylvania was approximately 1500 feet from the rupture!) There is wonderful advice about building cul de sacs in such a way as not to hinder evacuation, but there is no mention of pipeline operators considering evacuation routes in their construction plans. Many areas in Nelson County have a single evacuation route that would be blocked if there were a fire or explosion, particularly if there were secondary forest or brush fires.
There are additional links of the page for topics like:
- Consultation Zone & Planning Area
- Hazard Mitigation Planning for Pipelines
- Examples of Good and Poor Practices
- PST Outreach to Local Government Officials
- MRSC: Sample Land Use Ordinances
- MRSC: Planning Near Pipelines
- Dissertation on Land Use Planning and Pipelines in North Carolina
- More PIPA Resources
The PHMSA pages make very clear that Donimion’s PR statements about “it’s safe and you’ll never know it’s there” are pure fantasy.