Pipeline Task Force Update

The Pipeline Task Force (PTF), a subset of The Council for Dredging & Marine Construction Safety (CDMCS) and Coastal and Marine Operators (CAMO), is a joint inter-agency, public-private initiative focused on ensuring safe operations in waterways with submerged oil and natural gas pipelines through enhanced communications, collaboration, and exchange of best practices among all stakeholders. Preventing loss of life, injury, environmental pollution, and destruction of assets is their mandate and focus.

The PTF working group consists of over 50 diverse participants representing the Army Corp of Engineers, dredge, marine construction, NTSB, Notification Centers, pipeline, PHMSA, and US Coast Guard sectors.

I began attending Pipeline Task Force (PTF) meetings believing our focus would be coastal states and large waterways. The biggest take-away has been a “waterway” is any water: stream, river, lake, ocean, marsh. Landlocked states should be just as engaged because if there are utilities below, a marine ticket should be created.

The September meeting saw break-out task teams formed to dive deeper into the key topics identified.

Enhanced Education and Training

Craft messaging to reinforce that assumptions for a location of a utility cannot be made. Are all involved in the project aware of all equipment used? Discuss utility hazards and responses to them, emergency and otherwise. Recognize there are multiple definitions for an Emergency Shut Down (ESD) and steps that may be taken so a consistent standard will help all involved. Provide training with the Notification Centers to detail how to utilize 811 while discussing what it is, and more importantly, what it isn’t.

Modify Marine Tolerance Zone

Create state agency recommendations that may be standardized from state-to-state. While there is no guidance for Federal waterways, CDMCS recommends 75’. Work to increase engagement and communications between all parties which includes Emergency Shut Down (ESD) definitions and requirements. No initiative would be a success without training; the Tolerance Zone Committee hopes to conduct training between mariners and Notification Centers.

Mapping, Survey, and Marking

Engage the Coast Guard with mapping is imperative to partner for a better way. Determine the best technology available for survey while utilizing AIS for tracking and mapping. Share information through shared GIS data so all parties have consistent information for a heightened level of safety.

Notification Centers, Damage Prevention for Underwater Excavation, Communications, and Planning

Create a standard marine environment / waterway ticket using language developed by utilities, marine operators, heavy constructors, and Notification Centers. Develop specialized personnel within each of those organizations to become well-versed in handling waterway tickets.

Communications, Project Design and Planning

Take a back-to-basics approach and begin the conversation at the beginning. Do people know what dredging equipment looks like? Do people understand their utilities may be impacted simply from the displacement of water? By focusing on front-end communications, they will work to involve the correct stakeholders.

The goal of the PTF is to expand each of these working groups to spur action through enhanced best practices, education, and training with the hope of being recognized as consistent national practices across the industry.

To learn more about the Pipeline Task Force and Pipeline Safety, visit: www.camogroup.org or https://cdmcs.org/pipeline-task-force.