Railroad Commission Increases Pipeline Safety Inspections in FY 2019 - Hires Record Number of Pipeline Safety Inspectors

09/17/2019

AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission in Fiscal Year 2019 (Sept. 1, 2018 – Aug. 31, 2019) completed more than 4,800 pipeline safety inspections and issued more than 2,500 citations for violations. The RRC’s Pipeline Safety Department also filled a record number of pipeline safety inspector positions, reaching an all-time high of 69 for staff deployed statewide to ensure pipelines under the agency’s jurisdiction are constructed, operated and maintained in compliance with state and federal rules. 

“Protection of public safety and our environment is our highest priority,” said Stephanie Weidman, director of RRC’s Pipeline Safety section. “Thanks to support from the 86th Texas Legislature, we boosted our inspector numbers from 63 in Fiscal Year 2018 to 70 positions in FY 19. This will help us keep pace with the state’s new pipeline infrastructure being constructed to transport Texas’ booming oil and gas production.” 

Additional pipeline safety highlights in FY 19 include:

  •   Total pipeline inspections increased to 4,801 in FY 19, up from 3,294 inspections in FY 18. Inspections increased in both categories of inspections.

             o   Standard and comprehensive inspections increased to 3,086 in FY 19 from 2,323 in FY 18.

             o   Accident and special investigations increased to 1,715 in FY 19 from 971 in FY 18. 

  •    Pipeline inspectors cited 2,527 rule violations in FY 19 compared to 2,444 cited violations in FY 18.

Operators of intrastate pipelines (pipelines that begin and end in the state) are required comply with RRC pipeline safety rules found at the link below:

http://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=4&ti=16&pt=1&ch=8

Along with inspections, the regulatory process at the RRC requires intrastate pipeline operators to obtain a T-4 permit from the Commission.

In addition to enforcing pipeline safety rules, the Commission also enforces Underground Pipeline Damage Prevention rules found at:

https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=4&ti=16&pt=1&ch=18&rl=Y

These rules require Texans to call 811 before digging 16 inches or deeper to have underground pipelines marked. Marking prevents pipeline accidents and damage. Pipeline operators and excavators found in violation of these rules resulted in 3,432 excavation damage enforcement cases in FY 2019, an increase from 2,774 excavation damage enforcement cases in FY 2018.

About the Railroad Commission

Our mission is to serve Texas by our stewardship of natural resources and the environment, our concern for personal and community safety, and our support of enhanced development and economic vitality for the benefit of Texans. The Commission has a long and proud history of service to both Texas and to the nation, including almost 100 years regulating the oil and gas industry. The Commission also has jurisdiction over alternative fuels safety, natural gas utilities, surface mining and intrastate pipelines. Established in 1891, the Railroad Commission of Texas is the oldest regulatory agency in the state. To learn more, please visit http://www.rrc.texas.gov.