Pipeline Safety:

Need for a Stronger Federal Effort

CED-78-99: Published: Apr 26, 1978. Publicly Released: Apr 26, 1978.

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A review of the federal pipeline safety program identified a number of significant problems and weaknesses in the program. The Office of Pipeline Safety Operations (OPSO) in the Department of Transportation has regulatory authority for the safe transportation of essentially all gas and hazardous liquids, but it has not fully or effectively exercised this authority.

OPSO has not: (1) issued safety regulations governing all hazardous material pipelines; (2) issued comprehensive federal standards for liquefied natural gas facilities; (3) issued stringent safety standards for the transportation of highly volatile liquids; (4) revised the liquid pipeline safety regulations; or (5) systematically reviewed existing pipeline safety regulations to ensure that they are effective. In addition, OPSO has not provided the states with specific guidance for conducting pipeline safety programs or established minimum program quality criteria for state participation. Improvements are needed by OPSO to ensure operator compliance with established pipeline safety standards. OPSO has not developed an effective data collection and analysis system, and only limited use has been made of data collected in the federal pipeline safety program. OPSO ability to conduct a comprehensive program has been adversely affected by staffing problems and the continued absence of a permanent director.

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