BL05 "Define Transmission Pipeline Consultation Zone"
Practice Statement Local governments should define a "consultation zone" to provide a mechanism for communication between property developers/owners and operators of nearby transmission pipelines when new land uses and property developments are being planned.
Audience(s): Local Government
Local governments should define a consultation zone to provide a mechanism to initiate communication between property developers/owners and operators of nearby transmission pipelines when new land uses and property developments are being planned. Optimally, the consultation zone distance should be measured from the transmission pipeline centerline and should be based on specific pipeline characteristics and local conditions.
The intent of this recommended practice is to initiate a dialogue between the property developer/owner and the transmission pipeline operator when new land use or property development is planned near a transmission pipeline. This dialogue will serve to: (1) protect the transmission pipeline by promoting adequate consideration of the potential safety impacts of the proposed land use or property development on the pipeline; and (2) raise awareness of the potential safety impacts of the transmission pipeline on the proposed land use or development so they can be taken into account during planning and design.
For proposed new land uses and developments within the consultation zone, the property developer/owner should be required to initiate consultation with the transmission pipeline operator as early as possible in the development planning process. The local government and the property developer/owner should consult local land records to determine if transmission pipelines are located in the proposed development area. In addition, the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS), https://www.npms.phmsa.dot.gov/, may be utilized, with the caution that the accuracy of pipeline locations in the NPMS vary from pipeline to pipeline and may be as much as +/- 500 feet. Also, neither local land records nor the NPMS should ever be used in lieu of calling the one-call center to have the actual position of transmission pipelines and other underground facilities located and marked prior to excavation. In most cases an excavator can generally dial 811 to contact the one-call center.
Once consultation has begun, specific considerations to further enhance safety and protect communities where new development is planned near transmission pipelines may be taken into account. Several additional considerations are discussed in PIPA recommended practices BL06 and ND11 through ND23. Recommended Practice BL06 addresses the development and implementation of a "planning area".
A consultation zone distance should be measured from the transmission pipeline centerline. So that consultation zone requirements are appropriately applied to proposed land uses and developments, a site-specific distance based on the characteristics of the pipeline (e.g., pipeline diameter, operating pressure, potential spill volumes, transported commodities, unrestrained flow characteristics of transported commodities) and the area surrounding the pipeline (e.g., topography, population density, vegetation, structures, etc.) should be determined. Local governments should work with the pipeline operators to determine site-specific pipeline characteristics when developing their consultation zone distances.
Absent site-specific information, it is suggested that a standard consultation zone distance, on either side of the pipeline centerline, of 660 feet be used for natural gas transmission pipelines. For hazardous liquid pipelines, also absent site-specific information, it is suggested that a standard consultation zone distance in a range from 660 to 1,000 feet be considered. However, in either case it is recommended that communities develop and utilize site-specific distances for consultation zones, based on the unique characteristics for the pipeline and the area surrounding the pipeline. As noted, the transmission pipeline operator can be helpful and should be consulted in assisting local governments to better understand the pipeline characteristics when they develop site-specific consultation zone distances.
Generally, consultation zone distances larger or smaller than the standard distances may be warranted. High/low operating pressure, large/small pipe diameters, type of product carried and local topography can influence the potential impact on nearby development. Related information on refining planning area distances (see PIPA Recommended Practice BL06) is provided in Appendix I. Additionally, American Petroleum Institute Recommended Practice (API RP) 1162, Public Awareness Programs for Pipeline Operators, First Edition, December 2003, includes recommendations for collaboration among pipeline operators, property owners/developers and emergency response officials that may be helpful in developing criteria for a planning area. API RP 1162 applies within 660' of a hazardous liquid pipeline.
Local requirements should be clear that the consultation zone is only intended to:
Alert the transmission pipeline operator that a development near its pipeline is being planned;
- Help protect transmission pipelines by promoting adequate consideration of the potential safety impacts of the development on the transmission pipeline; and
- Raise awareness of the potential safety impacts of the transmission pipeline on the development.
Satisfying these objectives may help to avoid costly changes in land use and development plans at a later date and potential damage to the pipeline.
Relationship to Practice BL04
PIPA Recommended Practice BL04 encourages local governments to enact ordinances, regulations, or procedural recommendations that require property developers/owners to consult with transmission pipeline operators as part of the land use planning and permitting process, when development is planned within a consultation zone. The definition of a consultation zone, as provided here in Recommended Practice BL05, helps to simplify the determination of when such consultations should be initiated. Verification that the requirements for consultation are met should not impose an undue burden on the landowner, developer, or pipeline operator.
Relationship to Pipeline Operator Public Awareness Programs
The purpose for and size of a consultation zone does not affect the requirements for transmission pipeline operators to develop and implement pipeline public awareness programs as defined by PHMSA pipeline safety regulations.
Information the Transmission Pipeline Operator may need from the Property Developer/Owner
During consultation, a transmission pipeline operator may need information from the property developer/owner in order to discuss appropriate considerations for the proposed development.
- What is the street address (or if not available, the general location) of the property.
- Is the property encumbered by a pipeline easement? If so, please attach a copy of the easement or provide the recording (volume and page) information.
- Is there visual evidence of a pipeline on subject property (e.g., aerial markers, above-ground appurtenances, etc.)?
- Will the proposed development of the property require/entail (and if so, please describe briefly):
- Road crossings over the pipeline?
- Other utility lines crossing over or under the pipeline?
- Permanent structures or paving within the easement area (e.g., paving, parking lots, buildings, pedestrian paths, signage, poles, retaining walls, septic systems, basketball/tennis courts, etc.)?
- Extensive landscaping (including irrigation systems) within the easement area?
- Changing the amount of cover (by adding or removing dirt) within the easement area?
- Construction equipment crossing the pipeline?
- Blasting, seismic vibration testing, pile driving, or similar event which produces significant shock and/or sound waves?
- Significant excavation (underground parking structures or building foundations, core samples, rock/mineral quarries, dams, etc.)?
- Impounding water or building drainage ditches or other drainage facilities?
- Fencing running parallel to (within 100 feet) or crossing the pipeline?
- Storing materials, equipment, vehicles, or other items within the easement area (e.g., construction materials, junk or scrap heaps, cut timber, boats, military equipment, etc.)
- What is the approximate distance of the proposed building closest to the pipeline?
- Has the pipeline operator been previously contacted regarding this development? If so, by whom.
- Provide a site plan if available.
Information Transmission Pipeline Operators may provide during Consultation
Some examples of information that transmission pipeline operators may provide to local governments and/or property developers/owner to assist them in developing consultation zone distances or planning specific developments:
- Pipeline diameter and wall thickness
- Age of pipeline
- Depth of cover
- Typical operating pressure and maximum allowable operating pressure
- Material transported and typical daily flow rate
- Estimated worst case spill volume in the area of the development
- California Department of Education, Guidance Protocol for School Site Pipeline Risk Analysis, 2007
- American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 1162, Public Awareness Programs for Pipeline Operators.
- References on Potential Gas Pipeline Impacts:
- Navigate to Other Practices:
- Baseline (BL) Recommended Practices: BL01 BL02 BL03 BL04 BL05 BL06 BL07 BL08 BL09 BL10 BL11 BL12 BL13 BL14 BL15 BL16 BL17 BL18
- New Development (ND) Recommended Practices: ND01 ND02 ND03 ND04 ND05 ND06 ND07 ND08 ND09 ND10 ND11 ND12 ND13 ND14 ND15 ND16 ND17 ND18 ND19 ND20 ND21 ND22 ND23 ND24 ND25 ND26 ND27 ND28
- Table of Recommended Practices