Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission
The commission is responsible for developing and enforcing safety standards for natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines located within the state. The commission also inspects the portions of interstate natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines located within Washington state; the standards and enforcement actions are the responsibility of the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
There are 32 pipeline operators in Washington operating over 41,000 miles of pipelines. 21 of the pipelines carry natural gas and 11 carry hazardous liquid such as gasoline and jet fuel. There are 10 interstate pipelines in Washington - 5 carry liquid and 5 carry natural gas. Interstate lines typically are large diameter lines operating at very high pressure.
The commission also regulates a liquefied natural gas facility, an underground natural gas storage site, propane storage sites, and natural gas master meters. Master meters are small natural gas distribution systems operated by schools, hospitals or by residential complexes such as apartment buildings and mobile home parks.
The mission of the Pipeline Safety Program is to ensure public health, safety and environmental quality by:
The pipeline safety program began inspecting natural gas systems operating within the state of Washington in 1955. Intrastate hazardous liquid pipelines were added to UTC's authority in 1996.
In 2000, the Legislature approved the Pipeline Safety Act - HB 2420 (.pdf) directing the program to seek federal approval to include inspections of all interstate pipelines. In 2001, the Legislature adopted the Pipeline Safety Funding Bill - SB 5182 (.pdf)
In 2003, after working closely with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for two years, the pipeline safety program became the lead inspector for all interstate pipeline inspections and incidents within the state of Washington. The UTC can make recommendations to PHMSA but does not have enforcement authority over interstate pipelines.
The program is supported through a combination of federal grants and pipeline fees.
Pipeline Program Fees
The pipeline safety director manages the pipeline safety program. The chief pipeline safety engineer directs all compliance activities by the program’s eight pipeline inspectors. The operations manager oversees administrative support functions, budget work and program policies development and management and policy and outreach manager oversees rule and legislative changes and the program’s damage prevention efforts.
There is diversity among the inspectors from engineers to inspectors with extensive work experience with pipeline companies. All inspectors are federally certified, having completed training in all federal and state pipeline safety regulations, as well as advanced investigator training.
UTC Pipeline Safety Program Phone - (360) 664-1150E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org Staff Contact List
The UTC’s offices are at 1300 South Evergreen Park Drive just off of Highway 101 in Olympia.
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