Pipeline Safety Facts & Statistics

Pipelines are the safest way to transport energy products like natural gas, crude oil and other fuels.  The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) regulates pipelines with the help of their state partners.

According to government and industry statistics, the most common cause of pipeline incidents is improper or unauthorized digging near a pipeline.  Other causes of pipeline incidents include mechanical failure, human error and corrosion.  Read more about the causes of recent and historic pipeline incidents on the PHMSA Web site.

Pipelines operators carefully build, maintain and monitor the integrity and security of their lines.  They invest in employee training and actively work to prevent corrosion and mechanical and human error.  In addition, they work with professional excavators and homeowners to prevent unintentional damage to lines due to excavation activity.  Read more below about how operators keep pipelines safe.

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Pipelines are built according to specific design and construction procedures required by U.S. Department of Transportation regulations.

Once construction is complete, operators monitor lines, follow maintenance procedures consistent with the type, location and product being transported and communicate with those living and working near their lines.  These procedures often include:

  • Patrolling pipelines from the air and on foot to identify potential problems
  • Installing cathodic protection or adding inhibitors to prevent corrosion
  • Implementing integrity management plans
  • Conducting special training for employees who are responsible for certain tasks or duties
  • Monitoring pipeline pressure and volume 24-hours a day, every day
  • Preparing and practicing emergency response protocols
  • Communicating regularly with those who live and work near their pipelines and emergency responders in the community
  • Installing permanent pipeline markers to identify the general location of the pipeline
  • Working with neighboring landowners to keep rights-of-way free of plants or structures that could impact the safety of underground pipelines or impact the operator’s ability to monitor the line
  • Testing samples of the products they transport
  • Participating in the One-Call process