S (Sensitive) location class

The Sensitive (S) location class doesn’t seem to cause much confusion (with one minor exception).

Its intent is obvious:  to identify locations where there are people who are less able to protect themselves against a pipeline failure.  This includes particularly pre-schools, schools, hospitals, aged care facilities, etc.  Prisons are are another instance – the inmates may be able-bodied but are nevertheless limited in their movement for other reasons.  (But every case has to be considered on its merits – I know of an old 19th century gaol whose massive 6 m high stone walls provide superb radiation protection for anyone inside!)

AS 2885 requires that Sensitive areas be treated the same as T2 (High Density) areas.  So if your rural pipeline passes by a little isolated country school then the section of pipeline within the measurement length from the school must be designed the same as if it is in a densely populated urban area.

Nothing complicated about that I think.

However confusion sometimes arises because of this statement at the end of the description of Sensitive location class in AS 2885:

It shall also include locations of high environmental sensitivity.

The key to correct interpretation of this is that the safety management study process in AS 2885 is about failure of pipelines while in service.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with construction impacts – they are important, but are addressed through different processes.  A better form of words might have been:

It shall also include locations of high environmental sensitivity to pipeline failure.

With that clarification, it should be apparent that gas pipelines will rarely if ever receive an S classification for environmental reasons (I’ve certainly never encountered one).  However it may be entirely reasonable for an oil pipeline to have a number of Sensitive locations, depending on where spilled oil may spread and the environmental damage that could result.

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3 Responses to S (Sensitive) location class

  1. Peter Owbridge says:

    Our oil multi-product pipeline would require “S” for environmental purposes and we do have identification of known sensitive areas for both flora and fauna. I attach a link to our website where aerial maps show little red flags for areas of sensitivity such as forrest, rivers, bird life etc
    http://www.nzrc.co.nz/environment–community/environmental-protection/pipeline/pipeline-images.aspx
    These form oart of our Environmental Management System to achieve ISO 14001
    Willing to share information with others requred to identify areas of “S” for environmental purposes
    Cheers,
    Peter Owbridge

  2. petertuft says:

    Thanks Peter, a really good example of an oil pipeline that passes through a number of environmentally sensitive areas. And a great website for public information too. But does that level of pipeline location information give you any security concerns?

    • Peter Owbridge says:

      Hi Peter.
      The files on the web site are all PDF and have no level of accuracy. Actually quite good for contractors to gauge rough location when pricing for work in the vicinity as they realise that pot-holing could be an extra to account for during a “locate” under Dial Before U Dig and permitry. We also send out a full disclaimer to any reputable consultants requesting the use of our GIS files stating that accuracy requires full locate for any works in the area.
      I feel that by providing the information (especially in this elctronic age) and by careful management of such data that the information is not “hidden”. Also our designation (here in NZ) depicts the entire length of the pipeline on every local bodies District Plan which is the only Legal document and requires that any person working in the vicinity of the pipeline corridor must seek a s176 approval from the owner/operator. This is our additional level of control to encroachment.
      Hope this helps
      Peter O.

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