U.S. Department of Transportation


Date of this Version



TTO Number 16 Integrity Management Program Delivery Order DTRS56-02-D-70036


Mechanical damage from third party intrusion and latent defects caused during pipeline construction remains a leading cause of major pipeline incidents. Historically, mechanical damage is the single largest cause of failures on pipelines (transporting both natural gas and hazardous liquids).

Significant investments have been made by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the pipeline industry and stakeholder organizations to increase public awareness of the risks of excavation in pipeline corridors. Likewise, much as been invested in research regarding detection of mechanical damage using in-line inspection (ILI) technologies, evaluating the severity of mechanical damage, and mitigation measures. However, no single endeavor has adequately addressed each of these considerations or their interrelationships in sufficient detail with adequate industry support for the outcome to receive broad acceptance by all stakeholders as the benchmark for advancing the technology to address mechanical damage issues.

In an effort to collaboratively approach the problem, PHMSA and the National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives (NAPSR) held a major public workshop on February 28-March 1, 2006, in Houston to discuss issues associated with the role of technology in preventing, detecting, characterizing, and mitigating mechanical damage risks to energy pipelines. The workshop was organized in collaboration with several stakeholder organizations. It drove the scope for a major synthesis study on mechanical damage being conducted by Michael Baker Jr. Inc. (Baker). The study will evaluate the state of technology as well as gaps in the accepted technology necessary to understand, identify, assess, manage, and mitigate mechanical damage of pipelines. The study will also identify any gaps in associated regulations and industry standards. The study will be structured to seek industry and stakeholder input and review as well as to allow public comment period(s). Successful completion and acceptance of the study will require the support and participation of all stakeholders.

This paper serves as an executive summary of the workshop and identifies topics which will be addressed in the study. In summary, the purpose of this paper is to: 1) summarize the key issues presented and discussed at the workshop; 2) provide PHMSA, other regulatory and industry stakeholders, and the public with a sufficiently in-depth understanding of those topics which the study will address; and 3) provide the framework for additional comments by interested stakeholders on the study issues.