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Pipeline Safety Stakeholder Communications

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PIPA Recommended Practice ND08

ND08 "Collaborate on Alternate Use and Development of Transmission Pipeline Right-of-Way"

Practice Statement Property developers/owners, local governments and transmission pipeline operators may collaborate on alternative use of the transmission pipeline right-of-way and related maintenance.

Audience(s): Local Government, Property Developer and Owner, Transmission Pipeline Operator

Practice Description

Transmission pipeline rights-of-way (ROW) have the potential to be utilized for the benefit of the community and/or the property developer/owner while still maintaining the safety and integrity of the transmission pipeline facilities. Property developers/owners and local governments may work with the pipeline operators to explore possible uses of the property. These could include utilizing the transmission pipeline easement to create green spaces, parks, golf courses, hike and bike trails, horse trails, and other recreational spaces.

In considering such uses, the stakeholders should discuss who will maintain the ROW and how they maintain it. Some local governments and property developers/owners have worked together to the mutual benefit of the community and the developer by offering incentives such as higher building densities in exchange for development that enhances the transmission pipeline ROW.

Appendix C is intended for use by city and county planners, engineers, developers, land surveyors and others involved in the initial stages of land development on or near existing transmission pipeline ROW. It provides visual examples that illustrate both successful collaborative efforts and situations to avoid. In safely developing along a transmission pipeline ROW, certain criteria should be met. These include:

  • The ROW should be a clearly defined transmission pipeline corridor that blends with the surroundings. It should not be disguised. The width of a ROW varies, depending on the size and number of transmission pipelines located in the ROW, the products transported, site specific conditions, and pipeline operator practices.
  • Permanent structures, significant grade changes, and large landscaping are generally not acceptable.
  • The transmission pipeline operator may require the right to disturb the developed use of the ROW in order to maintain and access the transmission pipeline.
  • While analyzing potential development of the ROW, the pipeline operator considers potential loading, corrosiveness to the pipeline, increased likelihood of third-party damage, and the ability to monitor and maintain the pipeline.
  • For incident and emergency response planning, the pipeline operator considers public escape routes, emergency responder access and situation control, site specific product spill characteristics, and potential environmental impact.
  • The operator should establish an effective transmission pipeline marking strategy that will help keep markings in place. Additional markers designed to prevent unauthorized excavation may be warranted.

Development on or near transmission pipelines increases the probability of excavation damage. In an ideal layout for a new development, the entire easement width should be reserved for green space or other community use. It is also desirable to have as few individual landowners as possible be affected by the easement. A lot division on either boundary of the easement is preferable to splitting the easement between lots. Construction, maintenance and routine inspections of the transmission pipeline can be disruptive to the landowner when the easement is split between lots. All stakeholders should consider ways to mitigate this risk throughout the lifetime of the use of the developed right-of-way.

Individual transmission pipeline operators are likely to have different maintenance and operations practices, which could make a specific type of ROW development acceptable to one pipeline operator but not to another. Transmission pipeline operators need enough lead time to review site specific development plans. Generally, the operator will request a scope of work, description, and plan and profile drawings of the proposed development. The pipeline operator may charge for the review if the nature of the proposed development requires extensive preliminary engineering and/or field inspection services. A clear understanding of the property developer's/owner's and pipeline operator's rights, restrictions and responsibilities should be legally documented. Examples of types of land use agreements commonly used are encroachment agreements, encroachment permits, easement amendments, reimbursement agreements, partial releases and letters of no objection.

Development activities near a transmission pipeline ROW may affect the integrity of the transmission pipeline and the safety of the public. Property developers/owners should consult with the pipeline operator as early as possible when planning development near the pipeline ROW. Development activities or land uses near the transmission pipeline ROW that may affect the integrity of the pipeline include but are not limited to: blasting, contouring or terracing, clear cutting, retention ponds, drainage, walls and fences, excavations (e.g., pools, decks, and roads), drilling, boring, and landscaping. Early consultation can help reduce the chance for project delays and ensure that safe development activities can be implemented.