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PIPA Recommended Practice ND17

ND17 "Reduce Transmission Pipeline Risk in New Development for Residential, Mixed-Use, and Commercial Land Use"

Practice Statement New development within a transmission pipeline planning area (see PIPA Recommended Practice BL06) should be designed and buildings located to reduce the consequences that could result from a transmission pipeline incident and to provide adequate access to the pipeline for operations and maintenance.

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

Practice Description

While transmission pipelines have an admirable safety record, it is prudent to design buildings and related facilities in a manner that mitigates the potential impacts on people and property from a transmission pipeline incident. Locating structures away from the pipeline right-of-way (ROW), minimizing surface and subsurface encroachments on the ROW, designing alternate escape routes, and incorporating more stringent building fire safety measures are examples of mitigation techniques that may improve public safety and limit damage to buildings or infrastructure in the event of a transmission pipeline incident.

Buildings and associated structures should not be allowed on the transmission pipeline ROW as this places building occupants in close proximity to the pipeline and could result in interference with pipeline operations and maintenance.

Roads, driveways, utilities, lot boundaries, landscaping, finished grades, green space, and fences should be planned to ensure adequate access to the transmission pipeline ROW to avoid interference with pipeline operations and maintenance activities and allow access for emergency response to transmission pipeline incidents (see PIPA Recommended Practice ND23).

The landowner or developer should consider what is allowed by the pipeline right-of-way agreement with respect to the siting of aboveground facilities such as compressor stations, metering stations, valves, pipeline markers, and cathodic protection systems (see PIPA Recommended Practice ND18). The developer or landowner and local government should work with the transmission pipeline operator to ensure that current or potential future locations of these facilities would not create interference between the development and the operation and maintenance of the pipeline and facilities. Also, development of the property should consider the current or potential future location of these facilities.

In the event of a transmission pipeline incident, evacuation of a building or shelter-in-place may be necessary. Evacuation routes should be considered during the design of a development to ensure that the potential impacts of a transmission pipeline incident will not compromise a necessary evacuation. For example, buildings should have a safe means of egress with exits located where they would not be made inaccessible by the impacts of a pipeline incident. Similarly, cul-de-sac streets should not be designed crossing a transmission pipeline as the only route of ingress or egress could be blocked during a pipeline incident.

High-rise buildings such as hotels, dormitories, apartment complexes, and office buildings may not lend themselves to a timely evacuation. Specific emergency plans addressing transmission pipeline incidents should be developed for these buildings and integrated with overall emergency plans for the site. Site emergency plans should be developed in coordination with the transmission pipeline operator (see PIPA Recommended Practice ND23).

Several codes have been issued to address these concerns, including:

  • NFPA 1 - National Fire Protection Association (NFPA): Fire Code
  • NFPA 101 - NFPA: Life Safety Code
  • NFPA 5000 - NFPA: Building and Construction Safety Code
  • IBC - International Code Council (ICC): International Building Code
  • IRC - ICC: International Residential Code
  • IFC - ICC: International Fire Code

These codes provide minimum standards for means of building egress, including capacity, quantity, arrangement, location, protection, and marking of means of egress. Minimum standards for emergency plans are also provided, where applicable.

Enhanced fire protection of buildings (i.e. automatic sprinklers, water screens, exposure protection, air handling/ventilation systems, etc.) and/or enhanced fire endurance (non-combustible construction, window limitation, etc.) may also be implemented to further mitigate the impact of a potential transmission pipeline incident. NFPA 1, Fire Code, provides minimum standards for separation distances for various occupancies based on fire endurance (in hours), and incorporates many other NFPA codes and standards (by reference) for fire protection. NFPA 5000 and IBC provide minimum standards for fire endurance for various buildings. Enhanced fire protection and fire endurance measures may be implemented for all categories of buildings considered under this recommended practice.

Local government agencies and property developers should consider modeling of fire, explosion, or toxic release impacts that could occur during a transmission pipeline incident for the specific land use under consideration. Egress models should also be considered. If appropriate, land use development and facility design should take this modeling into account to minimize potential impacts. The model should be fit-for-purpose and the model user should have appropriate expertise.