Right-of-way clearing is an ongoing project that promotes the safe and efficient operation of the pipeline by enabling Sunoco Pipeline L.P. to meet its complementary objectives of protecting the integrity of the pipeline, effectively responding to emergency situations, and increasing community awareness of the presence of our pipeline. Clearing of any trees located near the pipeline is necessary because roots from trees planted within or approaching the right-of-way can wrap around the pipeline and damage its protective coating, causing pipeline corrosion. Tree root systems are drawn to the warmth and moisture of pipelines and often abnormal and excessive root growth patterns are experienced near pipelines. Clearing the right-of-way of trees that threaten pipeline integrity helps ensure the safety of the surrounding community.
Additionally, we need direct and immediate access to our pipelines in order to enable a prompt response in the event of an emergency. In the event of a pipeline release, it is not possible to expeditiously clear the trees away. With clear access to the pipeline, routine maintenance and repairs can be performed in a safe and efficient manner. A clear pipeline right-of-way also provides a visual marker that alerts the public to the pipeline’s presence and helps prevent unauthorized excavation and development within the right-of-way. Third-party “hits” are the number one cause of pipeline damage in the United States and we are committed to preventing them.
Regulatory requirements detailing minimum inspection, maintenance and protection standards have dramatically increased in recent years and our industry is continually improving its knowledge of proper pipeline prevention and protection techniques. We consistently assess and update our maintenance guidelines to ensure compliance with all appropriate standards. The U.S. Department of Transportation currently requires that pipeline rights-of-way be routinely patrolled. A clear pipeline right-of-way enables us to conduct aerial inspection to detect potential damage or product releases occurring near the pipeline, and ensures a clear path for our ground inspections of the right-of-way.
We are committed to operating all of our pipelines in a safe, reliable and environmentally sound manner and a clear right-of-way will assist in ensuring that the pipeline is protected.