General

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Who We Are

Accident Investigation Division

The Accident Investigation Division (AID) is PHMSA's single point of contact for accident investigations related to pipelines regulated under Pipeline Safety Regulations (Title 49 CFR Parts 190-199). AID works with our State Partners when accidents occur on pipelines where the State has assumed safety authority through Certifications and Agreements. The Division is co-located with PHMSA's Training and Qualification Center at 3700 South MacArthur in Oklahoma City, OK.

Investigate

National Response Center
The National Response Center (NRC) is a part of the federally established National Response System and staffed 24 hours a day by the U.S. Coast Guard. It is the designated federal point of contact for reporting all hazardous material discharges into the environment in the United States and its territories.

AID staff serve a duty rotation as the PHMSA's National Pipeline Incident Coordinator (NPIC). The NPIC continuously monitors the PHMSA's NPIC hotline and National Response Center (NRC) reports for hazardous material releases from pipelines. AID initiates a telephonic investigation of each pipeline report and deploys to major pipeline accidents.

Once on-scene the Lead Investigator works within the Incident Command System (ICS) to begin the investigatory process to determine the root cause and other contributing factors. The work often continues back in the office as the investigator reviews metallurgical reports, root cause failure analysis (RCFA) reports, and other documents. The investigator may perform additional site trips to the incident site, operators' offices, or the lab.

Although each pipeline failure has attributes unique to the operator, pipeline infrastructure, and incident site which contributed to the failure, most are the result of seven high level causes: corrosion, excavation damage, incorrect operation, equipment failure, material or weld failure, natural force damage, or outside force damage. Upon conclusion of major investigations, the AID produces a Failure Investigation Report (FIRS). FIRS are publicly available at on PHMSA's web site.

When the consequences of a pipeline failure meet reporting requirements, operators must submit an accident on PHMSA's Form 8100 within 30 days of the event. AID staff diligently review each of these reports to ensure that the data correct and consistent.

Analyze

AID uses the data and information from investigations and reports to support analysis of operator specific practices and evaluation of general safety trends. AID develops reports that form the basis for AID's Lessons Learned program and other accident prevention measures.

Prevent

Pipeline safety is a responsibility shared by all stakeholders. AID's goal is to improve pipeline safety through the sharing of information and lessons learned with internal and external stakeholders. AID works to improve pipeline safety through initiatives:

  • Specific to a pipeline operator;
  • Across the pipeline industry such as advisory bulletins, improved industry standards and regulations;
  • Within PHMSA investigation and inspection program; and
  • For communities including the public, emergency officials, and government officials.

Community and pipeline safety is improved through active stakeholder participation, especially regarding public awareness, damage prevention, risk-informed land use planning, and emergency management efforts. To learn more, see PHMSA's Pipeline Safety Stakeholder Communications site.

Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2018