Nightmare Pipeline Failures: Fantasy Planning, Black Swans and Integrity Management

Authors: Jan Hayes & Andrew Hopkins

Format: Hard Copy & eBook enterprise licensing

Price: $85 AUD (Hard Copy) | Inquire for eBook pricing 

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The worst nightmares of the oil and gas pipeline industry have come true in the US. High pressure gas pipelines run underground through many suburban areas, posing an immense but largely unrecognized threat to the general public. In 2010 in San Francisco, one of these pipelines ruptured, causing a massive explosion and fire. Eight people died, many were injured and 38 homes were destroyed.

This possibility haunts many cities around the world. The pipeline company was fined 2.5 billion dollars.

Coincidentally in the same year, another worst case scenario came true, in the state of Michigan. A pipeline rupture released vast quantities of oily sludge into a local river system. The smell was so offensive that many nearby residents were forced to sell their homes and get out. The clean-up cost the pipeline owner a billion dollars, making it the most expensive pipeline oil spill in US history.

This book is about the human and organisational causes of these two accidents. It identifies the lessons and suggests ways that such accidents can be prevented. In addition, it discusses the failure of pipeline regulation in the US and the need for regulatory reform.


About the authors

Jan Hayes is a senior research fellow at the Australian National University, funded by the Energy Pipeline Cooperative Research Center.

Andrew Hopkins is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the ANU and author of many books about major accidents.

What people are saying about Nightmare Pipelines Failures book:

“Hayes and Hopkins have managed to explain in lay terms the issues that lead up to the two incidents discussed in the book. This explanation helps the reader understand the issues, as well as exploring the regulatory constraints that contributed to the incidents. They explore the compliance mentality and the inherent problems with grandfathering old facilities to fit new regimes. The extension to discussing the concepts of a performance based regime make for interesting reading, especially when coupled with other recent major hazard incidents in the USA. This is a very good read for anyone managing operations or safety in high hazard industries, and raised some great self-examination questions about the way you operate.” Trish Kerin, Director, IChemE Safety Centre, Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)

“Having read Andrew Hopkins' account of Texas City and Deepwater Horizon I was looking forward to the latest instalment on the topic of pipeline failures which he co-authors with Jan Hayes and is in many ways a remarkable book. The focus this time is on two recent US pipeline disasters, one containing gas, the other liquid which resulted in catastrophic consequences for the local communities. The authors make the compelling case that for pipelines which increasingly encroach on residential dwellings that the contained  hazards pose dangers above all to the public which can be all too readily overlooked by the pipeline operator when the network has few or no staff in the vicinity.  Particularly so the authors contest when pipeline operators develop a slavish adherence to compliance, embrace the notion of grandfathering and expend their creative energies on the avoidance of inspection and testing rather than major accident prevention. At the same time the authors are keen to also point out these behaviours are all fostered from the top of an organisation, especially one which simply prioritises where it spends its maintenance budget rather than ask what is safe enough.  Whilst not uncritical about some aspects of the book especially related to auditability of ALARP this book no doubt will provoke some serious reflection and discussion across the major hazards industries.  Let us hope it also promotes action.” Lee Allford, CEO, EPSC (European Process Safety Centre)