PHMSA and TSA Update Pipeline Security Agreement
(Transportation Today News) – The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) recently joined the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) in updating the 2004 Memorandum of Understanding defining pipeline safety and security responsibilities.
The revisions provide for interagency information-sharing as it relates to incidents, security threats, and the inspection of pipeline infrastructure that crosses the U.S.-Canadian border.
“This action will improve the safety and security of our nation’s energy infrastructure,” Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said.
“We have committed to reviewing the Memorandum of Understanding at least once every five years to ensure that our safety efforts remain effective,” added PHMSA Administrator Skip Elliott.
HOUSTON Completes Major Pipe Bursting PROJECT
(WaterWorld) – One of the largest pre-chlorinated pipe bursting projects to date in North America was completed in Houston, Texas in February. The project replaced 50,000 feet of residential water main. All of the water main was in densely populated, mature residential neighborhoods, which is why Murphy Pipelines used static pipe bursting to minimize the impact to residents in the area.
Water service was maintained by a temporary bypass, and limited civil engineering was required for the project as the process followed the existing utility path. The process resulted in 86% less digging vs. open trench.
MEL CHRISTOPHER NAMED NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF GOLD SHOVEL ASSOCIATION
The Gold Shovel Association (GSA) board of directors has appointed Mel Christopher as Executive Director of its Gold Shovel Standard program, replacing Cheryl Campbell, who was named Vice Chair of the GSA Board. The GSA program works to eliminate damages to underground infrastructure through adoption of damage prevention safety management systems and use of performance-improving metrics.
Christopher was most recently Senior Vice President at Pacific Gas & Electric, one of the largest utilities in the United States serving more than 16 million people in Northern and Central California. He has been active with the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, and with the American Gas Association.
“Damage to underground infrastructure continues to be a threat to public safety and service reliability,” Christopher said. “I look forward to helping reduce this impact in order to ensure the safety of the public as well as improve service to customers. Gold Shovel has a proven track record of reducing life-threatening damages, and we will continue to engage all the damage prevention stakeholders to expand and ensure maximum effectiveness of the program.”
Campbell, who was named GSA Executive Director in early 2019, will continue to focus on additional board activities within the energy industry. She spearheaded the reorganization of the Association in 2019 and under her leadership the group saw significant growth and strong collaboration among key stakeholders in damage prevention.
WATER MAIN PROBLEMS CONTINUE IN FORT LAUDERDALE
(CBSMiami) – Just as one water main break under the South Fork of the New River in Fort Lauderdale, Florida was fixed, an 8-inch water main was damaged in Rio Vista. This break was just several blocks from where seven sewage breaks have occurred since last December, spewing millions of gallons of raw sewage into the waterways.
District One Commissioner Heather Moraitis indicated that funds earmarked for infrastructure upgrades have often gone to balance the city budget and insisted that money collected for the water and sewer fund from utility bills stay put for system maintenance.
The city completed a major sewer project in 2011 and planned to continue, but the recession got in the way of those plans. “The second phase of that project would have been repairing and replacing all the breaks we are currently seeing,” Moraitis said. “Over the next five years, we will be replacing about 60 miles of water mains, water lines and about 118 miles of sewer lines.”
Ruptured Sewer Pipe Results in South Beach (FL) Advisory
(Miami Herald) – About 87,000 gallons of raw sewage spewed into storm drains after a subcontractor ruptured a pipe in South Beach, in late February. A second pipe burst under the increased pressure resulting in 1.4 million gallons of dirty water spilling into Biscayne Bay and some of the city’s waterways.
The breaks forced city officials to issue an advisory to avoid recreational water activities on the west coast of the island.
While Public Works Director Roy Coley said the contractor negligence caused the initial break, the old age of the second pipe played a role in the subsequent rupture. Just days before the rupture, Coley had asked city commissioners for $122 million over the next five years to fix critical issues with the aging water and sewer system. Most of the pipes are 50-80 years old, but some components of the system date back to the incorporation of the city more than 100 years ago. The city finance committee recommended to approve Coley’s request to fund a water and sewer master plan and earmarked about $24 million in unallocated bonds to get started on the renovation.
The subcontractor, Jaffer Well Drilling, had been hired by Hy-Power to install a dewatering well for Florida Power and Light and they apparently drilled outside a zone delineated with utility line markings.
Indiana Promotes Safe Digging Month
(Kokomo Tribune) – Indiana 811 is encouraging all state residents to know where utility lines are buried before putting a shovel in the ground this spring. April is Safe Digging Month across the country, and the state’s One Call is asking do-it-yourselfers to “Call Before You Dig.”
Residents can call 811 or use the “811Now” online service to request utilities mark their underground lines. The simple, online service was launched in 2014. Indiana 811 offers residents across the state the following recommendations:
DEALING WITH NATURAL GAS
• Always call 811 or visit Indiana811.org/811now before digging, regardless of the depth.
• Tell neighbors, co-workers, family and friends about 811 if they discuss their plans for an outdoor tree or shrub removal project with you.
• Plan ahead – make sure you call or fill out the online form at least two working days in advance of your project.
• Avoid starting projects until you are sure all lines have been marked.
• If your excavation is within two feet of the marked facility, you must only use hand tools.
• If a contractor has been hired, confirm the 811Now online form has been completed or a call to 811 has been made.
BILL TO ADD LIQUEFIED PROPANE TO MAINE’S DIG SAFE LAW GETS INITIAL APPROVAL
It was reported in the last issue of dp-PRO that a bill was introduced in Maine to add liquefied propane gas in the state’s Dig Safe law after a deadly explosion in Farmington last year. The bill, introduced by Rep. Seth Berry and co-sponsored by Rep. Scott Landry and Sen. Russell Black, received its first rounds of “yes” votes recently, passing unanimously in both the House and Senate.
The bill was advanced by the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee in early February prior to going to the House and Senate for vote. It is now expected to go to Governor Janet Mills for final sign-off.
The Farmington explosion was ignited days after an underground propane line was severed during the installation of one of four bollards drilled into the ground near the building. The propane leaked from the severed line and led to the explosion.