Safety is our top priority at LG&E. Ensuring the integrity of our pipeline system enables us to successfully meet our goal of safely providing natural gas to our customers without adversely affecting our employees or the environment.
Pipeline Safety Improvement Act
The Pipeline Safety Improvement Act was signed into law by President George Bush in December 2002. Congress crafted the legislation as an amendment to the 1994 Pipeline Safety Law. A broad focus of the act is to make pipeline companies and the public more responsible and accountable for their actions and to prevent accidents. One of the provisions of the act directed the Secretary of Transportation to issue regulations requiring implementation of an integrity management program for natural gas pipelines.
In December 2003, the Office of Pipeline Safety issued a final rule requiring natural gas transmission pipeline operators, like LG&E, to adopt plans to identify and protect natural gas lines in High Consequence Areas (HCA), where failures could cause harm to people and property.
Another requirement of the act is for all pipeline operators to implement a continuing awareness program to educate the public and other key parties, such as excavators, government officials and emergency response agencies, about numerous topics related to natural gas. Those topics include information about a one-call notification system prior to digging or excavating, damage-prevention activities, hazards associated with unintended natural gas pipeline releases, physical indications that a release might have occurred, related emergency steps, and how to report the event.
As it has for decades, LG&E will continue to aggressively communicate safe operating and work procedures and other safety information regarding natural gas. In addition, LG&E is committed to complying with all requirements of the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act.
LG&E's Integrity Management Program addresses the following issues and elements:
- High-Consequence Areas (HCAs) — A high-consequence area is a specifically defined location where releases or operational impacts could have greater impacts on health, safety or the environment. LG&E has identified sections of its pipeline that could affect HCAs and is taking specific measures to ensure the integrity of its pipelines in these areas.
- Assessment Plan — Routine assessments are scheduled to verify the integrity of natural gas transmission pipelines within HCAs in accordance with federal pipeline safety regulations. LG&E commonly assesses pipe outside of HCAs as well.
- Remediation and Prevention — Remediation is defined as action taken by the operator to mitigate the danger of a potential integrity concern. LG&E's remediation work includes pressure reduction and/or repair and preventive measures that identify and stop a potential problem in an effort to prevent failure.
- Performance and Quality Assurance — LG&E regularly evaluates its integrity management program to:
- verify consistent application;
- identify improvement opportunities; and
- ensure the program is effectively assessing pipeline integrity and protecting high-consequence areas.
- Communications — LG&E has produced and implemented a communications plan with stakeholder audiences.
- Personnel Qualification and Training — LG&E uses a number of defined processes to verify all personnel involved in the integrity management program receive the proper training and are fully qualified for their assigned responsibilities.
LG&E continues to evaluate new technologies to use for inline inspections of natural gas transmission pipelines. Some of the existing technologies include circumferential magnetic flux leakage tools, a robotic tool equipped with laser deformation sensors, and a low-flow/low-pressure tool. These tools either evaluate the pipe in a new way or allow the inline inspection of a line where traditional tools would not work.