The Gas Pipeline Safety Division is responsible for the application and enforcement of pipeline safety regulations under Chapter 24B of the West Virginia Code and 49 U.S.C. Chapter 601, §60105(a), relating to certification with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Office of Pipeline Safety.
The Federal pipeline safety regulations are designed to promote public safety. The regulations prescribe the design, construction, installation, testing, operation and maintenance of pipeline facilities. Interstate natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines are regulated by the PHMSA Eastern Region Office located in Trenton, NJ.
The Gas Pipeline Safety Division has safety jurisdiction over intrastate natural gas distribution and transmission pipelines, liquefied petroleum gas pipeline systems, and intrastate hazardous liquid transmission. The Gas Pipeline Safety Division also investigates pipeline accidents and incidents involving the transportation and distribution of natural gas and hazardous liquids by intrastate pipeline. The Gas Pipeline Safety Division may assist PHMSA with interstate accident and incident investigations, and construction inspections.
The Gas Pipeline Safety Division also has jurisdiction over certain natural gas and hazardous liquid gathering pipeline systems. Gathering pipelines not covered under the pipeline safety regulations may fall under the jurisdiction of the Division of Environmental Protection, Office of Oil and Gas.
The Gas Pipeline Safety Division does not have jurisdiction over the siting or routing of pipelines. Interstate pipelines are permitted through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Statistics indicate that transporting natural gas or hazardous liquids through pipelines is the safest mode of transportation. As long as natural gas or hazardous liquid flows through a closed controlled system, it remains a safe product. Only when the natural gas or hazardous liquid unexpectedly escapes from a pipeline does it have the potential to be a hazard to life, property and the environment. There are many causes and contributors to pipeline failures. PHMSA compiles data on pipeline accidents and their causes. This data generally indicates that "excavation damage” is the largest single specified cause of all pipeline accidents. Outside force damage generally occurs when someone is digging or excavating near the pipeline.
To avoid a potential pipeline accident caused by any excavation and to comply with West Virginia Underground Facilities Damage Prevention, Chapter 24C of the West Virginia Code, a person must contact West Virginia 811 not less than 48 hours before any hand or equipment excavation commences.
For more information on Gas Pipeline Safety in West Virginia, visit these links: