Almost every week we hear about pipeline accidents that endanger people, property and the environment. Yet, there are readily available systems that can significantly reduce the number of pipeline accidents, by improving oversight that identifies potential problem areas.
AyaWorks (ayaworks.com) is one company that provides a suite of services designed to help utility companies improve safety, increase compliance to state and federal regulations, and reduce both incidents and paperwork associated with documenting on-going field inspections. So why aren’t more utility companies using this service?
While utility companies are huge, profit-making machines, perhaps the cost to implement safety protocols is too high. But is any price too high when we are talking about pipeline safety?
It has been estimated that 185,000 miles of pipeline in America is leaking every day. There is, in fact, a long and sordid history of pipeline leaks all across the United States that most of the public are completely unaware of.
Industry insists that pipelines are safe, but ruptures and leaks are a daily occurrence. At least eighty people have died and more than 380 have been injured in such incidents in the last five years.
Since 2010, over 3,300 incidents of crude oil and liquefied natural gas leaks or ruptures have occurred on U.S. pipelines. These incidents cost $2.8 billion in damages and released toxic, polluting chemicals in local soil, waterways, and air.
Accidents frequently occur with pipelines that just transport crude through states to refineries. Thus, states not directly involved in the oil fracking boom still face substantial risks to public safety and the environment from crude transport.
Nearly half of America’s crude oil pipelines are more than 50 years old, increasing the chance of corrosion and failure. Human error and failure of operators to act on potential vulnerabilities in their pipelines also contribute to accidents. So do natural phenomena like lightning and earthquakes.”
The United States government allows Big Oil corporations to write off the cost of building the pipelines which are often obtained through eminent domain. They subsidize the cost of transportation, and the cost of refining it.
So why not take stricter measures regarding improving pipeline safety?
AyaWorks is just one company that has a cost-effective tool to improve pipeline safety. The company’s products automatically generates compliance and maintenance reports from the field, and captures corrosion protection information in real time using satellite data, to reduce maintenance costs, improve pipeline integrity.
The company’s Leak Survey Management automatically captures leak and risk events as fieldwork is performed to improve compliance and safety. Their Biz Locate Request uses digital maps and real-time satellite monitoring to help alleviate third-party excavation damage, which is responsible for more pipeline incidents than any other cause.
Today, only a handful of utility companies and pipeline operators use systems like AyaWorks. Could Congress pass legislation that requires better pipeline safety protocols? Of course, they could. But in today’s political environment and the nearly $141 million spent on congressional lobbying by Big Oil, we are likely to see less regulation and more spills in the days to come.
Here are just a few of the headlines of pipeline accidents within the past year: