One of our country’s most vital transportation systems remains virtually invisible and unknown to many Americans: the network of 2.5 million miles of pipelines that criss-cross the nation beneath our communities. Because those pipelines carry a tremendous load and perform a very important service, they must be protected from digging and drilling.
The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) understands the importance of safe digging and drilling, and yesterday, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administrator Cynthia Quarterman spoke at the annual CGA Excavation Safety conference, where she thanked Alliance members for being at the forefront of pipeline safety.
As we mark the fifth anniversary of the nationwide hotline number, 8-1-1, it is encouraging to know that--thanks to safety education efforts by PHMSA and CGA--we've seen a steady drop in the number of pipeline incidents causing death or injury. From 2007 to 2011, excavation pipeline incidents declined steadily as a percentage of all pipeline incidents, from 15.6 percent to 10.8 percent.
While this is good news, our work is not done. With many new pipeline projects in the works, it is more important than ever to call 8-1-1 before starting a project that involves excavation.
The bottom line is that digging incidents can be prevented if people inform themselves with a quick call to 8-1-1. And, with spring just around the corner, PHMSA and CGA will be hard at work reminding folks about the importance of making that call.
Thanks to the Common Ground Alliance for its dedication to making sure that our underground transportation networks remain as safe and reliable as possible. Together, we will continue to reduce the number of pipeline incidents across the country and ensure that digging and drilling projects are completed safely.