Edited Version October 27, 1999 Transcript
EIIP Tech Arena Online Presentation

"National Pipeline Mapping System"

Steve Fischer
National Pipeline Mapping System Project Manager
Office of Pipeline Safety
U.S. Department of Transportation

The original unedited transcript of the October 27, 1999 Tech arena presentation is available in EIIP Virtual Forum Archives <http://www.emforum.org>. The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. Typos were corrected, date/time/names attributed by the software to each input were deleted but the content of questions and responses are as stated by each participant. Answers from the participants to questions by the audience are grouped beneath the appropriate question to facilitate meaning.


Amy Sebring: Welcome to the EIIP Tech Arena!

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Today I am pleased to introduce Steve Fischer, National Pipeline Mapping System Project Manager for the Office of Pipeline Safety of the U.S. Department of Transportation, who is here to tell us about the NPMS project. Steve has considerable background in GIS, including the city of Niagara Falls, NY and is educated as a geographer. Welcome Steve, and thanks for being with us today.


Steve Fischer: Hello, my name is Steve Fischer and I am with the US Department of Transportation, Office of Pipeline Safety. Thank you for joining in on our discussion of the National Pipeline Mapping System. Amy, SLIDE 1 please.


The USDOT Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) Mission Statement --- To ensure the safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of the nation's pipeline transportation system.

The Accountable Pipeline Safety and Partnership Act states that the OPS must adopt rules requiring a pipeline operator to create and maintain accurate maps that identify the location of the operator's natural gas transmission, significant distribution, and major hazardous liquid pipeline facilities in the state ... to inform a state of the presence of facilities.

The OPS decided to work with industry to determine how to best meet the intent of the Congressional mandate. Two Mapping Quality Action Teams (MQAT) were formed consisting of OPS, federal and state agency, and pipeline industry representatives. The first mapping team was a policy group who devised the idea of a National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS). The second mapping team was a technical group who took the findings of MQAT I and developed the standards to guide the creation and operations of the NPMS.

The NPMS will be a full-featured geographic information system (GIS) containing the type of data that we are responsible for regulating. The data will include natural gas transmission, liquid trunkline, and LNG facility data. The NPMS will serve as a valuable tool in helping to identify the spatial relationship between the pipelines that we regulate and their environments that we must protect. Amy, SLIDE 2 please.


These other layers that we will analyze in conjunction with the pipeline layer will include Unusually Sensitive Areas - both drinking water and ecological, highly populated areas, and areas prone to natural disasters and/or high consequences as the result of a pipeline release. Amy, SLIDE 3 please.


The OPS is currently working with pipeline operators and our regional offices in collecting test pipeline data from operators to illustrate the benefits of the NPMS once it is completed. This project includes identifying those pipelines that are at high risk due to earthquakes, flooding, landslides, hurricanes, and other lesser natural disasters.

In addition, we are identifying those pipelines that pass through high consequence areas - such as highly populated areas. By identifying those pipelines at risk, our regional offices will be more efficient in managing their resources when determining their pipeline inspection schedules. Amy, SLIDE 4 please.


The second Mapping Quality Action Team developed two standards documents. The documents are commonly referred to as the "Operator Standards" and the "Repository Standards." The most current version of the documents is from March 1999. Amy, SLIDE 5 please.


As part of this voluntary initiative, The OPS is asking that pipeline operators provide the NPMS with either digital data or maps of their natural gas transmission, liquid trunkline, and/or LNG facility data. The operators must meet certain data content and submission requirements. The "Operator Standards" provide the details to operators so that they may accurately provide their data to the NPMS. The geospatial accuracy of the NPMS is +/- 500 feet. From our discussions with the operators, most operators should easily be able to exceed this accuracy goal. Amy, SLIDE 6 please.


The NPMS has been structured to consist of a single National Repository and multiple state repositories. Amy, SLIDE 7 please.


The state repositories are either a state university or agency within the state. The state repositories work to collect and process the pipeline data within their state boundaries. Several of the state repositories are agencies that have been working with the pipeline industry for years and are very knowledgeable in collecting and processing pipeline data.

Amy, SLIDE 8 please.


The National Repository is a contractor working on behalf of the OPS. The National Repository is responsible for working with the state repositories, collecting and processing data for those states without a repository, and for creating a seamless national pipeline data set.

The National Repository is responsible for the final quality control process of the data. They are using a sub-contractor whose sole responsibility is to perform the quality control process. Amy, SLIDE 9 please.


There are currently nine state repositories. The states represented include California (liquids only), Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Contacts for the individual state repositories can be found in the "Operator Standards" beginning on page VI. Amy, SLIDE 10 please.

[SLIDE 10]

Not only do the Standards address the content and format for submitting the data, the Standards also describe where the operator is to send their data. If the submission is all digital data, the operator can submit their entire system to the National Repository OR divide up their data and submit part to the states with a repository and the remaining to the National Repository. If the submission is hard copy maps, the operator must submit the maps that are within a state repositories jurisdiction to that repository and then the remaining maps would go to the National Repository. Amy, SLIDE 11 please.

[SLIDE 11]

In conclusion, with the exception of our base map of scanned USGS 1:24,000 quads that we purchased from a private vendor, all data contained within the NPMS will be made publicly available. The goal of the NPMS is to have 70% of the pipeline data in the NPMS by the end of the year 2000.

Thank you very much and now I would like to entertain questions.

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much, Steve. I am sure we will have some good questions for you. Audience, please enter a question mark (?) to indicate you wish to be recognized, go ahead and compose your comment or question, but wait for recognition before hitting the enter key or clicking on Send. We now invite your questions or comments. We will give you a moment to think!

[Audience Questions]


Amy Sebring: Steve is any of this data available now? From the state repositories or from national?

Steve Fischer: The NPMS is in the early stages of collecting the pipeline data. There are states that are part of the NPMS who already have data that they have been collecting. The state with the most digital data is Texas.


Amy Sebring: Does the national repository have a procedure yet for requesting data?

Steve Fischer: The formal request for data has actually come directly from OPS. We have been working with the trade associations in getting their members to submit data.


Jon Kavanagh: I missed the first bit of the lecture, but is there any information collection for incidents that occur?

Steve Fischer: OPS has been collecting data on incidents in a separate database. We are looking at being able to join the data from the incidents database with the pipeline data from the NPMS.


Libbi RuckerReed: I am sort of confused. Will this be available online? In an overlay type of format? For visual looking? Or just paper data?

Steve Fischer: There will be several options available for either obtaining the digital data directly or viewing on an Internet application. It will depend on the abilities of the end user. Paper will also be available from the repositories as mapping products.


Rick Tobin: I'm sure this has been considered, but I'll ask anyway. What precautions are you taking to protect this data from those who would perform terrorist acts? I remember one law enforcement official who was very upset to find out that I had old maps (now rare) that show pipelines and power lines all over the U.S.

Steve Fischer: This has been an ongoing issue for the mapping teams and the NPMS to address. Our conclusion is that a lot of the type of data needed by a terrorist is not being collected by the NPMS, i.e., pumping stations, valve locations, etc. If a terrorist wants to inflict damage on a pipeline facility, they would have no problem going out into the field and finding markers.


Lars Thompson: Is the data being collected being coordinated with Local Emergency Planning Committees to assist with compliance with SARA Title III requirements?

Steve Fischer: No. Most of the coordination has been between other federal and state agencies.


Amy Sebring: Steve, do you see any other states coming on as state repositories? Any in the works?

Steve Fischer: Yes, there will be a continuing effort to add more states as state repositories. We are currently reviewing three states and we will place another Commerce Business Daily announcement in Jan. 2000 for additional state repositories.


Amy Sebring: Other questions for Steve? While we are waiting, can you give a brief description of some of the types of data; for example, is emergency contact information included?

Steve Fischer: No. The intent of this database is not really for emergency response. It is intended to allow OPS to view pipelines in relation to the environment and people that we need to protect. It is also meant as a tool to allow OPS to better utilize our inspection resources to better target pipelines at risk.


Lars Thompson: It would seem the data is excellent for planning environmental risk assessment in the developing of new communities and especially schools.

Steve Fischer: At a local level, I would think that would be an appropriate utilization of the data. However, just remember that we are only talking, at this time, natural gas transmission and liquid trunkline data.


Lars Thompson: Do you see this data filtering down to the local level for planning and response activities?

Steve Fischer: The data will be made available through our normal FOIA type processes.


Isabel McCurdy: FOIA?

Steve Fischer: Freedom of Information Act. It is the process to request information. However, we might have a less formal process for asking for the date --- that is left to be determined by the attorneys.


Amy Sebring: Steve, will this data be shared with the various One-Call systems?

Steve Fischer: As far as the data being used by One-Call Systems, that will really be the decision of the One-Call. They are certainly welcome to use the data and incorporate their specific needs.


Amy Sebring: Will the state repositories be setting up their own access procedures?

Steve Fischer: What do you mean by access?

Amy Sebring: Procedure to request data by the public.

Steve Fischer: OK. Most states have processes similar to FOIA. The data will be available directly from a state repository or directly from the national repository. We will most likely try to have the option of downloading the data directly from the NPMS homepage <http://www.npms.rspa.dot.gov>.


Amy Sebring: Liquid trunklines -- does the data contain the material transported and does this change frequently? How will the data be updated?

Steve Fischer: Yes, the commodities transported in the liquid lines will be included as an attribute. We will be asking operators to provide updates to their data submissions on a regular basis. I would refer anyone interested in looking at the specifics of what we are collecting to either look at the standards on the NPMS homepage or contact the national repository and request a copy of the "Operator Standards."


Amy Sebring: Steve, will the NPMS only apply to interstate lines?

Steve Fischer: No, we are collecting inter and intrastate transmission and trunkline data.


Amy Sebring: I believe you are accepting commonly used GIS formats. Will you maintain all the formats for the national?

Steve Fischer: We are accepting a wide variety of formats from the operators but we will be maintaining the data within the NPMS in the format used by the individual repository.

Most systems can read and write to other software packages.


Amy Sebring: You are using the Federal Geographic Data Committee standards for metadata?

Steve Fischer: Yes.


Amy Sebring: When you start looking at the hazards analysis, will you share this info in some way?

Steve Fischer: The other data layers that we use to determine the hazards and consequences are available to anyone interested in receiving a digital copy. That will continue once we get the NPMS data.


Amy Sebring: What is your strategy for acquiring data? I assume you are working with the states that have repositories first?

Steve Fischer: Our strategy has been to work with the trade associations to identify their largest members. We have contacted hem and have discussed their timeline for submitting data. Our state repositories are working to collect data from the intrastate operators. After we receive the data from the large operators, who for the most part can provide digital data, we will start working to collect the data from the smaller operators. States such as Texas, that already have a lot of pipeline data in digital format, will work to try and use that data as the submission by the operator. That will require adding attributes that the state doesn't collect and metadata.


Amy Sebring: Will paper submissions be digitized?

Steve Fischer: Yes, we are urging operators that plan on migrating themselves to digital within the next year or so to wait and submit digital to us. For those operators who are not planning on moving to digital, we will accept their paper maps and digitize them. They do have to meet paper map submission requirements before they can submit.

Final Question:

Amy Sebring: I think this is very timely to provide standards at a point when larger operators most likely are or will be going digital?

Steve Fischer: I agree. We are trying to get as many federal and state agencies to adopt our standards.

Amy Sebring: This could be a tremendous resource for those with the same type of local responsibility to protect the public.

Steve Fischer: I agree.

Amy Sebring: I feel we need further dialogue on this aspect perhaps.

Steve Fischer: Yes, considering that a lot of municipalities are unaware of pipelines running through their jurisdictions.

Amy Sebring: I know OPS does good work on this issue, and there is a need for wider distribution of its findings, including incident histories. Thank you very much for being with us today, Steve. We hoped you enjoyed it. Please stand by for a moment while we take care of some business.

Steve Fischer: Great. Thanks. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me.

<[email protected]>. Phone is 202-366-6267

Amy Sebring: Update on the pledge drive, we are getting close to the bitter end folks. Two new pledges since yesterday, John Hardcastle and Jill Tokarsky. That brings us to 80; only 20 more to go! < //bell http://www.emforum.org/pledge.wav>. Thanks John and Jill!

[Upcoming Events]

Next week we are planning a Tuesday Round Table session to revisit with some of the IAEM members that participated in the professional exchange trip that went to Italy recently. I hope we can view some photos.

Next Wednesday, Bob Swan of Dewberry & Davis will join us in the Library to present his paper, The Debris Management Cycle: An Overview. Please note that the paper is in our User Docs section of our Virtual Library.

Thanks again, Steve and thank you, audience. We will adjourn the session for now, but you are invited to remain for open discussion. You no longer need to use question marks.