Pipeline Company Celebrates Safety Milestone

With the start of December, Colonial Pipeline this week celebrated 10 million hours of employees working without a lost work-time injury, a milestone representing more than seven years of employees working safely. The company, headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga., delivers refined petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, and fuels for the U.S military on a 5,500-mile network of pipelines that connects the refineries of the Gulf Coast with markets throughout the South and East. Its pipeline begins in Houston and terminates at the New York harbor.

During the past 10 million hours, Colonial has safely completed a number of major construction projects, from replacing a segment of line underneath the Susquehanna River in Maryland to lifting an underwater line in southern Mississippi to replace block valves, to boring a new line under Interstate 65 near Birmingham while traffic continued above. And the company noted that during those seven years, it has weathered four historic hurricanes and excavated approximately 6,000 segments of line to visually inspect the integrity of the steel pipe.

On matters of pipeline and employee safety, the refined petroleum product pipelines answer to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Department of Labor, and the Environmental Protection Agency as well as a variety of state agencies. Colonial said its programs to protect the pipeline and people represent a company-wide expenditure of more than $75 million every year.

According to Colonial, the pipeline industry as a whole has elevated safety and safe operations to new levels of prominence. During the past decade, the company noted, the number of spills has declined by 60 percent, thanks in part to national campaigns such as "811 Call Before You Dig."

"People count on pipelines to bring them the fuels they need every day," said Jack Gerard, head of the American Petroleum Institute, which represents the U.S. energy industry. "To be that reliable source of energy, pipelines need to operate safely and protect the well-being of their employees, the public, and the environment."

Gerard congratulated Colonial on reaching the 10 million-hour milestone. "The entire industry can appreciate the kind of commitment necessary to avoid serious injuries on the job for that many years," he said.

Colonial CEO Tim Felt said, "We are rightfully proud of this accomplishment, which is significant not only to our employees but to the families depending on us. But we must never forget that the public expects nothing less than safe operations from Colonial and the entire pipeline industry. When a pipeline right of way runs alongside your property, no accident is acceptable."

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