Integrity Management Inspections
In the context of pipeline
operations, the term "integrity" means that a pipeline system
maintains its structural integrity and does not leak or rupture.
"Integrity management" encompasses the many activities pipeline
operators must undertake to ensure that releases do not occur.
Recently-enacted IM regulations
place new requirements on operators to provide assurance of safe pipeline
operation in locations where a pipeline failure might have significant adverse
consequences. These locations are referred to as High Consequence Areas, or
Prior to the development of IM
regulations and HCA-based decision-making, pipelines in remote and unpopulated
areas received just as much scrutiny from operators and regulators as those
running through heavily populated areas. Integrity management reflects common
sense in protecting the public and in the spending of taxpayer dollars.
The IM rules require:
- Periodic integrity assessment of pipelines that could
affect HCAs. Integrity assessments are performed by in-line inspection
(also referred to as "smart pigging"), hydrostatic pressure
testing, or direct assessment. Through these assessment methods,
potentially injurious pipeline defects that have the potential to
eventually weaken the pipe, or even cause it to fail, are identified early
on and can be repaired, thus improving the pipe's integrity.
- Development and implementation of a set of safety
management and analytical processes, collectively referred to as an
integrity management program (IMP). The purpose of the program is to
assure pipeline operators have systematic, rigorous, and documented
processes in place to protect HCAs.
Integrity management inspections are
comprehensive, and a team of inspectors is often used to conduct the
inspection. For operators with significant pipeline mileage, integrity
management inspections generally require two weeks.