How Safe are Pipelines?

Let’s face it, all technologies we employ for the betterment of life carry risks – yes bathtubs included! With all the news about pipelines (and with Keystone XL taking center-stage), I thought it worthwhile to take a look as some stats.




Here’s the Data

Fortunately the US Department of Transportation keeps track of such things and makes the data available. Here are a few findings:






If we look at just the fatalities numbers, it may add some perspective to understand that a little over 30,000 people are killed each year in the US in automobile accidents. This compares with a 10-year average of 16 deaths per year

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related to pipeline incidents.


Pipeline Risk is LOW!

The 10-year average estimate of property damage from pipeline incidents as reported by the DOT is about $463 million. Now that seems like a big number, but, on a per person basis for people living in the US, it is less than $1.50 per person/year. The Automobile Association of America estimates (2008 data) that car crashes cost around $166 billion/year – that’s billion with a “B” or about 358 times more than property damage related to pipeline incidents.


How Many Pipelines in the US?

Now you may think that the US has a just a few pipelines and that the damage, fatality and injuries are of concern if we dramatically increase the mileage of our US pipelines. Have a look at the map below:



That’s about 2.5 million miles of pipeline!


Tracy Crawford

CEO | Rain8 Group LLC

Reference: US DOT “All Reported Pipeline Incidents,”