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Pipeline Safety Program Description
The UTC’s pipeline safety program began inspecting natural gas systems operating within the state of Washington in 1955. Intrastate hazardous liquid pipelines were added to UTC's authority in 1996. In 2000, the Legislature approved the Pipeline Safety Act (HB 2420) directing the program to seek federal approval to include inspections of all interstate pipelines. In 2001, the Legislature adopted the Pipeline Safety Funding Bill (SB 5182)
In 2003, after working closely with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for two years, the UTC pipeline safety program became the lead inspector for all interstate pipeline inspections and incidents within the state of Washington. The UTC can make recommendations to PHMSA but does not have enforcement authority over interstate pipelines.
The program is supported through a combination of federal grants and pipeline fees. (WAC 480-93-240 Annual Pipeline Fee Methodology)
Washington State Pipelines
There are 28 pipeline companies in Washington operating over 24,000 miles of pipelines. Nineteen of the pipelines carry natural gas and nine carry hazardous liquids such as gasoline and jet fuel. There are eight interstate pipelines in Washington - Five carry liquids and three carry natural gas. Interstate lines typically are large diameter lines operating at very high pressure.
The UTC also regulates a liquified natural gas facility, an underground natural gas storage site, and propane storage sites, as well as natural gas master meters. Master meters are small natural gas distribution systems operated by schools, hospitals or by residential complexes such as apartment buildings and mobile home parks.
A pipeline safety director manages the pipeline safety program. The Chief Pipeline Safety Engineer directs all compliance activities by the program’s seven pipeline inspectors. The Operations Manager oversees administrative support functions, budget work and program policies development and management and Damage Prevention Manager oversees rule and legislative changes and the program’s extensive damage prevention efforts. Pipeline Safety Organizational Chart
There is a diversity among the inspectors from formal degreed engineers to inspectors with extensive work experience with pipeline companies. All inspectors are federally certified, having completed training in all federal and state pipeline safety regulations as well as advanced investigator training.
The mission of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) Pipeline Safety Program is to ensure public health, safety and environmental quality by:
· Conducting quality inspections of hazardous liquid and natural gas pipeline companies
· Improving safety laws and regulations
· Educating local communities on pipeline safety issues
· Providing technical assistance to pipeline operators, local governments and communities, and
· Enforcing laws and regulations in a fair & equitable manner
How to contact us
The UTC’s offices are at 1300 South Evergreen Park Drive just off of Highway 101 in Olympia. You can reach the pipeline program by calling 360-664-1254 or us our staff contact list.
Join the UTC Pipeline Safety Program Listserve
Receive updates of the program's activities and announcements.
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