ARCHIVED - Session 5 - Performance Measurement Role in Risk Management

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Safety Forum - June 5-6, 2013

Carl Weimer, Executive Director
Pipeline Safety Trust

Carl - who is the target for information, public majority or the non-silent minority?

I think your two groups are mislabeled. I would say the two groups are those paying attention to pipeline issues and those not. Clearly performance measures regarding pipelines are meant for those paying attention, (which is still a small minority), whether they are silent or vocal. Because the level of awareness about pipeline issues has increased in recent years because of high profile pipeline incidents and proposals, it is important that accurate performance measures are provided to help guide those discussions based on facts instead of suppositions.

Carl - it seems that some of the public tends to ignore the hard facts about the pipeline industry. How do we change that behaviour?

I agree that people often believe what they want to believe and those beliefs often are not based on facts, or on "facts" that have been selectively developed to promote a certain outcome. The public is certainly guilty of this, as is the energy industry. The public often comes to conclusions based on common sense - such as the common belief that if a steel pipeline has been in the ground for 50 years it certainly must being wearing out and needs to be replaced. Once they understand the levels of operation, inspection and maintenance the pipeline industry goes through their beliefs change. This is not an easy process since it requires the public to spend more time reading and thinking about these things. Making that type of basic information easily available from a variety of trusted resources is a good start.

In the U.S. PHMSA has recently started a multi-stakeholder process to review all the data they collect to verify its accuracy, importance, and how it can be used to inform all stakeholders to be on the same page regarding the "facts". Since this effort includes regulators, industry and the public there is hope that whatever comes out the other end will be generally agreed upon, so we can quit arguing over what are the real facts.

When sharing GIS data of pipelines by company how do you balance the security risk? AB & BC bombings have increased awareness of threat.

I realize there are real security concerns and believe there is certain information that probably should not be made available to the general public. I am not privy to the real threats to pipelines so the decisions of what should and should not be provided needs to be made by the regulators with a particular eye to not restrict access to valuable information under the guise of security. Some information, such as the general location of pipelines, cannot really be hidden because there are pipeline markers along the length of them, and they are readily visible even on Google Earth, so arguing that we cannot make pipeline maps available is silly. On the other hand providing the exact location of every valve, and the type of valve at that location, may be more than the public needs. If someone has a desire to know more about valve placement for safety reasons hopefully the company would have that discussion with the individual.

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