Originally posted on http://ift.tt/13mgxE0 :


Glenn Archambault
Jan 11th, 8:01am
I sit on the board of the Pipeline Safety Trust ( PST ), created after one of the worst pipeline accidents in American history. The board looks over the shoulder of the oil and gas industry, regarding transportation by pipeline. We hold no regulatory power, we interact with the pipeline industry, the state and federal regulators, the press comes to the PST for facts, and we advise all levels of government. Few citizens serve at this level of responsibility, what this boards says, testifies to and focuses on often becomes policy and law. On my watch, serving on this board, this Nation has experienced some of the worst pipeline accidents in history. I carry those accidents with me because I was one of the very few who had the power to change safety, advise a community, and do a better job as a board member and a citizen. From those events, that I have studied, discussed with the most knowledgeable, and followed from the moment of failure, I have learned a great deal. That education came from the loss of life and property, shattered communities, and people shaken and changed. Across the Nation people are debating all kinds of energy projects as America becomes the largest producer of energy worldwide. In Southern Oregon, we are considering the Pacific Connector pipeline from the Malin, Oregon gas hub to Coos Bay and the LNG facility. I am a neutral party to this project, but have followed the project since long before it became public. Here is some advice gained from decades of following pipeline projects, from start to finish. First this pipeline is going to be built, unless the markets change. That means the people of Southern Oregon need to accept the project and work to make the best of it. My recommendation is an advisory committee made up of all concerned, including the pipeline operator, citizens, all levels of government, paid specialists, and this group must have the standing and respect to be listened to by the people, government, the courts and regulators. Remember, pipeline projects get built, doesn’t matter how controversial, and forgotten. The pipeline industry will tell you, public awareness, governmental cooperation, understanding what the pipeline does, are enormous challenges in pipeline safety. The landowners and community will tell you of frustration on many issues, the courts aren’t the answer, there is no one to listen, and these problems will be here for the life of the pipeline and the right of way. Given this pipeline is a modern line, latest materials and maintenance; it is possible it could be here a 100 years or more with replacement work.
A great lesson from many pipeline failures. Over time the pipeline operator and the community become strangers. The original pipeline people, landowners, community fade away. The agreements signed become dated and nonfunctioning. New people arrive, with no idea about the nearby pipeline. What was a cattle pasture when the pipeline was built is now a subdivision. The world has changed, but the pipeline is still there. When a failure happens or a terrifying close call, the pipeline operator’s people and the community renew the discussion about the pipeline, and quickly see they should never have stopped the conversation.