The transmission pipeline incident in Edison, New Jersey in March, 1994 raised public concerns about the safety of siting of transmission pipelines in proximity to populated areas. One of the responses to this incident was the issuance of a contract by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) to the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) to study this and other issues with regard to pipeline safety.
The research performed by NJIT included a review of current USDOT regulations and policy with regard to siting of pipelines and related land use; a review of regulations of major industrialized countries related to same; an analysis of the USDOT’s incident database vis-à-vis proximity to neighboring land uses; and a review of local land use regulations related to proximity to transmission pipelines.
The basic findings were as follows:
1. The U.S. Pipeline regulations are appropriate to minimizing risk while maintaining the viability of the pipeline industry.
2. All the regulations reviewed (i.e., US and international) approach the siting and regulation of pipelines in urban areas in a similar fashion.
3. Analysis of the USDOT incident database indicates that, in general, pipelines are sited in rural or underdeveloped areas, and damage resulting from an incident in highly developed areas is generally less then in rural areas due to the regulations restricting the allowable operating stresses in more densely populated areas.