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Land Use Regulations and Pipelines Prepared by: Beverly Woods Northern Middlesex Council of Governments March 2015.

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Presentation on theme: "Land Use Regulations and Pipelines Prepared by: Beverly Woods Northern Middlesex Council of Governments March 2015."— Presentation transcript:

1 Land Use Regulations and Pipelines Prepared by: Beverly Woods Northern Middlesex Council of Governments March 2015

2 Objectives of pipeline-related land use measures Keep human activity away from the immediate vicinity of the pipeline Minimize exposure in the event of an accident Prevent unintended damage to pipeline infrastructure

3 Primary hazard from natural gas is an explosion or fire Ignition source must be involved or released gas will dissipate It is possible that the size or movement of the vapor cloud could result in consequences away from the initial point of release Releases can result from natural disasters, excavation, corrosion, mechanical failure, and operator error

4 Risk factors to consider Multiple use of the right-of-way Pipeline design Age of the line and related infrastructure Diameter, pressurization and depth of burial Commodity transported now and potentially in the future Risk is inherent in the pipeline system-it can be reduced and managed but cannot be eliminated For the largest and highest pressure lines, injuries are possible out to 1,000 feet but ROWs are rarely more than 50 feet

5 Probability of failure based on Materials of construction Fabrication Corrosion Effectiveness of pipeline coatings and cathodic protection system Pressurization Depth of cover Frequency of inspection (required by federal law and usually performed by aircraft)

6 Causes of Gas Pipeline Incidents in the U.S.-2005-2009

7 Local capacity to regulate safety Local governments are pre-empted from regulating pipeline safety under the federal Pipeline Safety Act Not pre-empted from involving public safety personnel in siting and routing review Federal regulations require emergency response plans, and operators must share the plans with first responders -Operators must detail equipment and personnel available, shutdown procedures, notification process, and how service will be restored -Must establish and maintain liaison with local emergency personnel

8 Right-of-way Control Pipeline companies typically negotiate easements with property owners Gives the operator authority to use the ROW, includes the right to repair and maintain Public parties generally have no input into the content of the easement agreement or copies of the recorded instrument

9 U.S. Natural Gas Pipelines-Decade of Construction

10 Easement agreements address Purpose, boundaries and duration Renewal fees Right of the pipeline company to gain access Rights of the landowner Number and size of pipes Materials that may be transported Rights for expansion Procedures for communications among parties Procedures for abandonment

11 Interstate pipelines FERC is responsible for permitting interstate pipelines FERC delegates its power of eminent domain to the pipeline operator and requires that a 50-foot ROW be maintained for inspection and repairs Federal government typically pre-empts state and local regulations FERC is empowered to override private landowners and state and local governments in siting new interstate pipelines States have jurisdiction over intrastate pipelines

12 Local land use regulations Most local governments do not address pipelines and have little data on which to base land use regulations Could help protect the ROW and preclude uses that pose a safety risk Over time, subsequent property owners, their tenants, or the public may be unfamiliar with the ROW or easement, possibly compromising public safety Local governments are largely restricted to regulating land uses near a pipeline

13 Land use measures and tools Zoning setback requirements -must be wide enough to minimize risk, but may be costly if interpreted as a “taking” -new requirements may make some existing properties non-conforming -fixed distance setbacks may not consider specific risks and the physical environment Regulate certain types of uses or structures near the pipeline (e.g. schools, hospitals, daycare, nursing homes, etc) Implement constraints on activities on or near the ROW Encourage linear parks and trails along the right-of-way

14 Southwick-DPU Zoning Exemption 3/9/11 Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. filed a petition with DPU pursuant to c. 40A, Section 3 seeking exemptions from the Southwick Zoning Bylaw to build a compressor station on residentially zoned land C. 40A, Section 3: Land or structures used…by a public service corporation may be exempted…from a zoning ordinance or bylaw if, upon petition of the corporation, the Department shall… determine the exemptions required and find that the proposed use…is reasonably necessary for the convenience and welfare of the public.

15 Southwick (cont’d) Under 40A must meet 3 criteria: -petitioner must qualify as a public service corporation -petitioner must demonstrate that its present or proposed use of land or structure is reasonably necessary for the convenience and welfare of the public -petitioner must establish that it requires exemption from the zoning ordinance or bylaw (Southwick does not allow use variances)

16 Southwick Zoning-provisions requiring exemption Use Wellhead protection Signs Site plan approval and site plan review Parking and loading Environmental performance standards (not granted) Stormwater management Flood hazard and wetlands Earth excavation

17 Bellingham, WA Model ordinance enacted after a tragedy resulted in three deaths Required a minimum setback for gas pipelines “Consistent with the hazard area radius” is required, with setbacks doubled for buildings where the public gathers for education, sports, conventions, hospitalization or worship” Tried to establish minimum insurance requirements for pipeline companies, but Federal court ruled that this exceeded federal requirements and was pre-empted by federal law Now regulates uses that are in proximity of pipeline

18 Austin, Texas Crude oil pipeline Subdivision regulations prohibit plotted lots or structures within the pipeline easement Zoning establishes requirements within 200 and 500 feet of the right-of-way based on fire modeling Bans new structures within 25 feet Increases building standards within 200 feet Prohibits new structures requiring excavation within 200 feet Does not apply to pre-existing structures

19 Aboveground pipeline operations and impact Compressor stations, pumping stations, regulator stations, and other pipeline infrastructure may generate noise and odors Heat exchangers or other equipment may produce visible air emissions Some pressure limiting stations may include relief valves to release gas to the atmosphere Facilities used to odorize natural gas are designed to minimize odorant releases, but occasional releases could occur Repairs and maintenance require the operation of heavy equipment

20 Compressor stations Significant acreage (25-30 acres); spaced every 30-70 miles Noise level is a concern with reports of up to 100 dB in some problem locations FERC standard is 55 dB at the closest noise sensitive area (slightly quieter than an average conversation) State limits the additional noise to ambient levels Sound surveys should be performed before and after construction Where 55 dB level is exceeded, corrective action is required Blow down: venting or flaring of gas during maintenance or an emergency (1-4 times per year) Air emissions are regulated by EPA

21 Local regulations for compressor stations Fort Worth, Texas –zoning ordinance -300 foot setback with 6-foot security fencing, landscaping standards, and buffer from residential properties -established local noise levels based on adjoining zoning districts Cecil, Pennsylvania –zoning ordinance -compressor stations allowed as a permitted use in oil and gas overlay district

22 Other measures Obtain mapping data for all transmission pipelines from USDOT or the pipeline operator and include on all planning or construction documents Whenever development is proposed on property containing a pipeline, the municipality should require a plan addressing in detail the steps necessary to safely integrate the pipeline into the project design All subdivision plans should show the location of the pipeline and identify the operator For incident management and emergency response, the pipeline operator and developer should consider evacuation needs, emergency responder access and situation control, and potential environmental impacts

23 Specific development design and construction considerations Parking lots and parking structures can be strategically located to create a buffer between the ROW and occupied structures Pay attention to depth of cover and load carrying capacity where a roadway crosses the pipeline Design and construction of underground utilities should try to minimize potential migration paths that could allow leaks from the pipeline to migrate to buildings Drainage facilities should be designed so as to not cause erosion or compromise soil stability over the transmission pipeline

24 Pipeline Consultation Zone Bylaw Requires developers and property owners to consult with pipeline operators early in the development process In place in O’Fallon, Missouri Zone should be measured from the pipeline centerline; 660-1,000 feet is recommended for a gas pipeline Protects the pipeline through adequate consideration of the safety impacts of the development proposal Raises awareness of potential safety impacts of the pipeline on the proposed development Actual position of the pipeline should be marked on plans and in the field prior to construction activities commencing

25 Pipeline Consultation Zone Information Needs Street address of proposed project Is the property encumbered by a pipeline easement? Is there visual evidence of the pipeline on the property? Will the proposed project require road or utility crossings over or under the pipeline, permanent structures, landscaping or paving within the easement, changes in the amount of cover, blasting, seismic testing, or pile driving, significant excavation, or the storage of materials or equipment within the easement.

26 Minimum recommendations Start a conversation about establishing land use controls and noise standards (for compressor stations) that protect the public; prolonged proximity to a large natural gas pipeline carries risk Make sure your community knows the exact location of pipeline infrastructure and that the information is mapped Ensure that your public safety personnel are adequately trained, and that there is two-way communication with the pipeline operator Be sure that there is an emergency evacuation and response plan for areas with a natural gas or hazardous liquid pipeline

27 Thank You! Presentation is available at: Beverly Woods Executive Director Northern Middlesex Council of Governments Phone: (978) 454-8021, ext. 120 Email:

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