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Pipeline Safety: CO2 Pipeline Safety Public Meeting

PHMSA recently hosted a two-day public forum in Des Moines, Iowa to hear concerns and receive input on how to strengthen CO2 pipeline regulations. Find out how this could affect the CO2 industry with our recap below.

June 2023

audience at PHMSA CO2 meeting

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) recently hosted a two-day (May 31st and June 1st) public meeting in Des Moines, Iowa to provide an opportunity for participants to help inform safety-related rulemaking decisions regarding Carbon Dioxide (CO2) pipelines. Meeting attendees included pipeline operators, federal regulators, tribal governments, public advocacy groups, local landowners, members of the emergency management and response industry, and international colleagues. 

PHMSA has undertaken a new rulemaking process (under RN 2137-AF60) to strengthen its safety oversight of CO2 pipelines. The new rulemaking, and Des Moines public meeting, come in the wake of a February 2020 liquid CO2 pipeline rupture in Satartia, Mississippi. Fortunately, no fatalities occurred, but this event did force the evacuation of 200 people and sickened almost 50.

Several companies have proposed building multi-billion-dollar CO2 pipelines through the Midwest, including three proposed lines in Iowa. Panelists and other attendees voiced concerns and outlined the gaps in research and federal and state regulations. Many local landowners and county representatives implored PHMSA to issue a moratorium on pipeline permitting; they requested that permits not be issued until new rulemaking has been finalized. PHMSA respectfully noted that construction permitting is not in their jurisdiction and is handled by state and/or other federal agencies.


Topics covered at the meeting included:

  1. The current state of research and development for CO2 pipelines (i.e., standards, design, materials, construction)

  2. CO2 pipeline safety expectations and requirements for pipeline operators

  3. Impacts of geologic hazards (“geohazards”)

  4. CO2 dispersion modeling (e.g., methods, programs, costs, etc.)

  5. General state of CO2 pipeline infrastructure (current mileage and anticipated changes)

  6. Conversion to service

  7. Leak detection and reporting requirements

  8. Emergency training and response

  9. Public awareness, engagement, and emergency notifications

CO2 storage and dispersion modeling were one of the primary topics discussed throughout the two-day meeting. Industry experts and safety advocates on the panels agreed that the current state of CO2 dispersion modeling is poorly understood; more studies should be performed to assess the validity of existing models and their predictions of how CO2 plumes spread, pending pipeline rupture. A comprehensive CO2 model will assess the risk of high-pressure CO2 pipeline rupture, including the dispersion patterns of released CO2 into the atmosphere and surrounding environment. Dispersion patterns are affected by various external factors, including local topography, climate, and vegetation. During discussions, PHSMA announced that they have sponsored a research & development project with Texas A&M to examine subsurface CO2 storage monitoring systems and the potential impact radiuses within a computational CO2 dispersion model. This project is slated to finish in 2025.

Among the selected panel members were representatives of various federal agencies, health and safety administrations, academic programs, and tribal governments:

  1. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  2. Department of Energy (DOE)

  3. National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives (NAPSR)

  4. Pipeline Safety Trust (PST)

  5. Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)

  6. Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN)

  7. Three Affiliated Tribes (TAT) Pipeline Authority – Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation

  8. Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI)

  9. Center for Reliable Energy Systems (CRES)

  10. Canada Energy Regulator (CER)

  11. United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE)

  12. Cedar County Emergency Management Agency


All presentations and received comments (without edits) from the public meeting will be available online at the E-Gov website within the next few weeks: - Docket number: PHMSA-2023-0013-0001

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