Pipeline Safety: Additional Actions Could Improve Federal Use of Data on Pipeline Materials and Corrosion

The U.S. energy pipeline network is composed of over 2.7-million miles of pipelines transporting gas and hazardous liquids. While pipelines are a relatively safe mode of transportation, incidents caused by material failures and corrosion may result in fatalities and environmental damage. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), an agency within the Department of Transportation, inspects pipeline operators and oversees safety regulations. 2016 pipeline safety legislation included a provision for the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine a variety of topics related to pipeline materials and corrosion. This report addresses: (1) the materials and corrosion-prevention technologies used in the pipeline network and their benefits and limitations and (2) how PHMSA uses data on pipelines and corrosion to inform inspection priorities, among other topics. GAO analyzed PHMSA’s 2010–2016 data; reviewed PHMSA regulations; and interviewed PHMSA officials and representatives of nine states selected based on pipeline inspection roles, eight pipeline operators—providing a range of sizes, geographic locations, and other factors—and eight stakeholders selected for expertise on pipeline and corrosion issues. GAO recommends that PHMSA document the design of its Risk Ranking Index Model and implement a process that uses data to periodically assess the model’s effectiveness. The Department of Transportation agreed with the recommendation and provided technical comments, which GAO incorporated as appropriate.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 55p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01643735
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO-17-639
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 17 2017 5:09PM