The threats pipelines pose are numerous and extremely serious. Pipeline incidents have res ulted in over 500 deaths, nearly 3,000 injuries, and over $8.5 billion in financial costs from 1986 to 2016. Just this month, about 5,000 barrels of oil, or about 210,000 gallons, gushed out of the Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota.
Pipelines are accidently hit or dug up at a shocking rate. In 2016, contractors accidently hit a gasoline pipeline, causing two wildfires that burned 31 acres, killed one person, and injured five.
In 2015, prisoners were building an access road for the police department in California.
A prisoner operating a backhoe hit a natural gas pipeline, causing an explosion, injuring 14 people, 2 of them critically because no one followed regulations to “call before you dig”, what we call “Miss Utility” here in Virginia. Regulations are unenforced and are loosely followed by the industry if regarded at all. Regulatory agencies have had their funding cut so they have fewer staff to do the important work of keeping our massive pipeline infrastructure safe.
In Colorado in 2015, there were over 1,300 incidents of pipes being punctured by people doing excavation or construction projects, such as installing back yard fences. These punctures caused leaks, explosions, and the contamination of water, land, and air; yet there were no violations or penalties served to anyone in any of these incidents.
Pipelines have been a target of cyber attacks. Cyber attackers could take control over the system that runs our electrical grid, purposely stopping service to businesses and homes, bringing our economy and way of life to a screeching halt. In 2013, 23 pipeline companies had hackers steal some of their sensitive information. Earlier this year, the Department of Energy released a report detailing their concern over cyber-attacks on our pipeline infrastructure. A direct quote from that report is, “In the current environment, the U.S. grid faces imminent danger from cyber attacks, absent a discrete set of actions and clear authorities to inform both responses and threats.” A cyber-attack would cripple our country, economy and daily lives.
The News Virginia – Jennifer Lewis – 12.26.17
Posted by Nelson Bailey