Officials tout oil pipeline’s safety record
Friday, Aug. 31, 2007
In April 2000, an oil pipeline that starts in Piney Point ruptured at the Chalk Point Generating Plant at the southeast point in Prince George’s County, spilling 110,000 gallons into the Patuxent River. There has not been a leak since, pipeline officials from Mirant Mid-Atlantic LLC told the St. Mary’s County commissioners Tuesday.
The 52-mile-long pipeline runs from Piney Point to Mechanicsville to a T intersection where oil is sent to Chalk Point and the Morgantown Generating Plant in Charles County. Thirty miles of the pipeline are in St. Mary’s.
Since Mirant reopened the pipeline in June 2001, there have been no employee accidents for more than 2,220 days and no reportable spills or environmental incidents for more than 2,636 days.
‘‘We’re actually here to report nothing bad has happened,” said Doug Agnes, pipeline engineer.
The pipeline has the capacity to move 3,000 barrels of oil per hour up to the power plants, which either burn the oil or burn coal to produce electricity.
Moving the oil through the pipeline keeps thousands of tanker trailer trips off local roads, said Billy Moore, manager of the pipeline.
The line is monitored at all times by automated detectors and staff.
‘‘The magnitude of a spill would be much less” now, Moore said, because of those systems.
The largest threat to the pipeline is accidental third-party intrusion, he said, from those digging down into the ground without first calling 800-MISS-UTILITY.
The pipeline path is monitored every 10 to 14 days by helicopter to see if there is any groundbreaking work going on nearby.
Marked yellow posts generally indicate the line, but they might not always accurately reflect the actual location.
St. Mary’s County Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R), an advocate of alternatives to gasoline, asked where the oil comes from that is shipped to Piney Point. The oil is mostly from South America, Moore said. ‘‘It’s all price driven.”
If someone detects a rupture along the line, they are asked to call 866-OIL-PIPE.
The pipeline went into operation around 1970.
E-mail Jason Babcock at firstname.lastname@example.org.