Pipeline Injuries

There are over 2.6 million miles of pipelines in the United States. That’s enough to circle the earth roughly 100 times. Pipelines exist in all 50 states, and pipeline development and investment is a big-dollar business. In 2013, investments in pipeline properties expanded to $14 billion dollars, according to the Oil and Gas Journal.

In 2013, the largest interstate pipeline companies in the United States were:

  • Magellan Pipeline Co. LP (10,036 miles of pipeline)
  • Mid-American Pipeline Co. LLC (8,233 miles of pipeline)
  • Plains Pipeline LP (7,502 miles of pipeline)
  • Phillips 66 Pipeline LLC (5,886 miles of pipeline)
  • Sunoco Pipeline LP (5,676 miles of pipeline)
  • Colonial Pipeline Co. (5,598 miles of pipeline)
  • ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. (4,958 miles of pipeline)
  • Enbridge Energy LP (4,599 miles of pipeline)
  • Enterprise Crude Pipeline LLC (3,942 miles of pipeline)
  • Centurion Pipeline LP (3,688 miles of pipeline)

While these are the largest pipeline owners in the United States, there are actually 3,000 different pipeline owners and operators in this country ranging from large to small, according to the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

U.S. Companies spend a lot of money to build their pipelines, but not enough on the workers who actually build them. In 2013, it was estimated that the cost to construct a single mile of pipeline was $6.57 million. Of this $6.57 million, companies spend approximately $2.8 million on labor per pipeline mile.

A lot is required to construct a pipeline, and every step presents an opportunity for worker injury if the proper safety precautions are not taken. The steps include:

  • Site preparation: clearing and grading the terrain, which includes things like removing trees and boulders, stacking timber, etc.
  • Pipe stringing: transporting pipe to the site and unloading and distributing it along the right of way
  • Trenching: digging trenches with trenchers and backhoes; rock drilling and blasting; stockpiling of removed dirt and other materials for backfilling
  • Bending: use of a bending machine to slightly bend pipe for slight turns and maneuvers
  • Welding: temporarily support sections of pipe and weld them
  • Coating: coating is often applied to weld sites
  • Lowering: use of sidebooms and machinery to lower pipe
  • Backfilling: use of machinery to return earthen materials to cover pipe
  • Testing: hydrostatic testing to ensure integrity of pipe
  • Site restoration: using machinery to restore topographical site to pre-construction appearance

Once a pipeline is built, much work is required maintain it and ensure it is safe. And because of the explosive nature of what the pipeline is often transporting, pipeline incidents can be fatal. For example, in 2000, an El Paso natural gas pipeline exploded in New Mexico, killing 12. In 2010, a PG&E natural gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno, California, killing eight.

If you or a loved one has been injured or suffered an injury while working in connection with a pipeline, the Texas pipeline injury lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard can help. Please call us or click here for a free, confidential consultation.

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