Safety is PSE's Top Priority
As the largest natural gas utility in Washington, PSE understands pipeline safety concerns and employs safe procedures when working near pipelines. PSE approaches every project, from the smallest natural gas service installation to the largest transmission line, with the same priority: the safety of our customers, the communities we work in, and our fellow co-workers.
For Energize Eastside, PSE will continue to follow all federal and state safety regulations to maintain safety in the corridor. This includes building and operating the project to meet strict federal standards that govern both pipeline and transmission line infrastructure.
PSE and Olympic's infrastructure have safety co-existed in the existing corridor for decades
The backbone of our transmission system on the Eastside shares a utility corridor with Olympic Pipe Line Company's (Olympic) underground petroleum pipelines. Olympic and PSE have shared this corridor for more than 40 years.
Focus on safety in design, construction and operations
We’re working with national experts and Olympic to refine our design in accordance with industry and engineering best practices for the safe construction and operation of both facilities. Energize Eastside’s design uses new technology and meets strict safety requirements. Specifically, the design:
- Uses new, longer-lasting equipment, and fewer poles that will typically be farther away from the pipelines than the poles are today.
- Maintains at least 13 feet of distance between the pipelines and the pole grounding system.
- Meets or exceeds industry standards to address seismic, high winds and ice loads.
- Operates both transmission lines at the same voltage to reduce the potential for pipeline interaction.
We’re working with Olympic to plan and implement construction practices that protect the pipelines and nearby neighborhoods. Our construction safety plan includes:
- A third-party safety inspector who independently monitors construction activities in collaboration with our safety staff.
- Engineering survey work, including the use of advanced ground-penetrating radar to locate subsurface utilities.
- Site preparations, including confirmation of utility locations, prior to any ground-disturbing activity to ensure there is no interaction with existing facilities.
- Use of specialized excavation techniques (e.g., air or water vacuum excavation and hand digging).
- Use of Olympic-approved equipment and vehicles for construction and facilities access.
- Use of temporary coverings, such as steel plates, to distribute the weight of equipment and protect existing utilities.
After construction ends, PSE will continue to coordinate with Olympic to ensure the safety of day-to-day operations.
PSE and Olympic working together
Both PSE and Olympic Pipe Line Company have a strong, mutual interest in the continued protection and safe operations of facilities in the existing utility corridor. We have a long history of working closely together. Examples of work in the corridor include:
- In 2007 and 2008, PSE worked with Olympic Pipe Line Company to replace more than 130 poles and reframe more than 200 poles in the existing corridor.
- In 2015, PSE successfully completed more than 50 geotechnical investigation borings within the existing corridor. Half of these geotechnical borings took place in the vicinity of the Olympic pipeline.
- In June 2016, we replaced two pole structures adjacent to the pipelines to address an imminent safety concern created by the construction of new apartments in Newcastle. We met onsite with Olympic Pipe Line Company's Damage Prevention Team to review construction activities and coordinate safe construction practices.
PSE and Olympic Pipe Line Company continue to coordinate on construction activities. Engineers, damage prevention specialists, field personnel and contractors from PSE and Olympic Pipe Line Company have worked together to develop a safe construction plan that also complies with all Olympic Pipe Line Company and jurisdictional permitting requirements. The construction plan includes:
- Having an assigned Olympic Pipe Line Company representative on-site to prepare initial work sites and monitor key construction activities near the pipeline.
- Installing temporary fencing or other markers around the pipeline area to create visual awareness of the pipeline location.
- Placing temporary protective cover (i.e., timber mats) over the pipeline to safely allow heavy equipment based on Olympic Pipe Line Company’s engineering reviews.
- Using specialized equipment to perform non-mechanical soil removal for all excavations within close proximity to the pipeline.
As described in the Final EIS, new construction will entail close coordination between PSE and Olympic, and no significant adverse impacts related to work near pipelines are expected. To review the EIS analysis, visit EnergizeEastsideEIS.org/library.
Review our corridor safety Frequently Asked Questions document to learn more.