Page 20 - West Virgina 811 Magazine 2022 Issue 1
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call request. If there is a conflict, the pipeline technician notifies the caller
of the notification to arrange an onsite meeting with the crew prior to breaking ground on the right of way. In some cases the caller of the notification is
not actually the person or foreman
in charge of the excavation crew. It is critical that the positive response or the request for a meeting is acknowledged by the caller and passed on to the foreman of the job. I have heard several stories of communication gaps that have led to both damage to the pipeline or a close call due to unauthorized excavation on the right of way.
A Few Rules of Engagement
Similar to rules of a game, there are very strict rules and regulations when it comes to crossing pipeline rights- of-way. Similar rules of engagement are found when excavation takes place on or across a railroad ROW. These rules are in place to keep workers
and the general public safe because both railroads and pipelines transport hazardous materials.
For your safety here are a few commonsense rules to follow:
When digging on or near a pipeline right-of-way
Cross perpendicular, or as close as possible to 90 degrees, and maintain at least a two foot clearance from the existing pipeline structure if trenching and four foot clearance if drilling. Maintain the path and the same depth across the entire width of the pipeline right-of-way, which is normally a distance of 25 feet on both sides of the pipeline structure.
The excavation crew should safely expose the pipeline to identify the exact location and depth of the pipeline prior to any excavation on the right of way The pipeline should be protected at all times while it is exposed.
Identifying Heavy Equipment Safe Crossing Area
Many of our older pipelines are
fairly shallow. Thousands of miles of transmission pipelines were installed
in the early to mid-1900s, prior to strict construction rules. Many of these lines were installed two to four feet deep, but over the years they have been getting closer and closer to the surface due to erosion, earthmoving in a farm field or general farming operations. The shallow lines are subject to damage or fracture cracking due to heavy equipment driving over the lines. The pipeline technician will alert the excavation
crew of this situation and often identify a safe place to move heavy equipment across. If there are no safe areas to cross the pipeline, technicians will normally require the excavation crew to build one. This is done by matting the line
by use of timber, metal or building a dirt bridge by adding a few feet at the crossing point.
18 • West Virginia 811 2022, Issue 1
A perpendicular crossing of a pipeline after properly exposing and protecting the existing pipeline.

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