Statistical analysis of environmental consequences of hazardous liquid pipeline accidents

Heliyon. 2018 Nov 7;4(11):e00901. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2018.e00901. eCollection 2018 Nov.


Although pipelines are the safest method to transport fuels, they are associated with risks due to failures, leading to significant negative consequences. This paper investigates pipeline accident data provided by PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration) between 2010 and 2017, with a focus on environmental consequences of hazardous liquid pipeline accidents. The average amount of released product, the average time elapsed between the accident, the emergency response from the oil company, and the average costs of environmental remediation are estimated. The impact on soil, water, and wildlife is investigated for frequency and magnitude, where possible. It was found that, on average, 85% of product released after an accident remained unrecovered, 53% of accidents led to soil contamination, 41% of accidents impacted environmentally sensitive areas, and 92% of water crossing pipelines involved in accidents were uncased. From an annual average total cost of USD 326 million, annual average environmental damage and remediation costs were USD 140 million. This analysis assists in the diagnosis of challenges that might be addressed with improved maintenance and inspection programs, especially for pipelines at higher risk of negative environmental consequences. Finally, the performance of safety management systems should be improved to efficiently respond to emergencies.

Keywords: Environmental science; Petroleum engineering.