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Pipeline safety : the office of pipeline safety is changing how it oversees the pipeline industry
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    Pipelines are inherently safer to the public than other modes of freight transportation for natural gas and hazardous liquids (such as oil products) because they are, for the most part, located underground. Nevertheless, the volatile nature of these products means that pipeline accidents can have serious consequences. For example, when a pipeline ruptured and spilled about 250,000 gallons of gasoline into a creek in Bellingham, Washington, in June 1999, three people were killed, eight were injured, several buildings were damaged, and the banks of the creek were destroyed along a 1.5-mile section. The Office of Pipeline Safety, within the Department of Transportation, administers the national regulatory program to ensure the safe transportation of natural gas and hazardous liquids by pipeline. The Office has traditionally carried out its responsibility by issuing minimum standards and enforcing them uniformly across these pipelines. The Accountable Pipeline Safety and Partnership Act of 1996 directed the Office to establish a demonstration program to test a risk management approach to pipeline safety. This approach involves identifying and addressing specific risks faced by individual pipeline companies rather than applying uniform standards regardless of risks. The act allowed the Office to exempt companies in the program from the uniform standards but did not eliminate the standards.
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