New measures are set to be implemented across the US to increase the safety of carbon dioxide (CO2) pipelines to protect communities from pipeline failures.

The US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on Thursday (26th May) announced the measures as a result of its investigation into a CO2 pipeline failure in Satartia, Mississippi.

At the time of the failure, 2020, the incident resulted in local evacuations and caused almost 50 people to seek medical attention. The new measures hope to ensure that incidents such as this won’t happen again.

Tristian Brown, PHMSA Deputy Administrator, said, “I recently visited with the first responders in Satartia to hear first-hand of the pipeline failure so that we can improve safety and environmental protections for CO2 pipelines and work to protect communities from experiences like this.”

“The safety of the American people is paramount and we’re taking action to strengthen CO2 pipeline safety standards to better protect communities, our first responders, and our environment.”

As part of the increased measures, PHMSA has said it will initiate a new rulemaking to update standards for CO2 pipelines, including requirements to emergency preparedness and response.

In relation to the 2020 incident, PHMSA will also complete a failure investigate report and issue an updated nationwide advisory bulletin to all pipeline operators underscoring the need to plan for and mitigate risks related to land-movements and geohazards that pose risks to pipeline integrity like the Sataria incident.

Welcoming the move, Jessie Stolark, Public Policy and Member Relations Manager for the Carbon Capture Coalition, said, “These common-sense steps announced today by PHMSA build on comprehensive existing CO2 pipeline regulations and were supported by the Coalition in April comments to the White House’s Council of Environmental Quality on their interim CCUS Guidance.”

“Along with the additional common-sense safety measures PHMSA announced today, the agency also released the long-awaited incident report from the 2020 CO2 pipeline failure in Satartia, Mississippi, which provides insights into probable operator violations that led to the pipeline rupture. This incident was terrible and should not have happened.”

“The public PHMSA safety data show that CO2 pipelines have been and can be operated at the highest level of safety by best-practice industry operators. We must ensure all in industry meet the highest levels of safety as we scale the infrastructure necessary to meet mid-century climate goals.