When we think of the reports about the pipeline accident in Massachusetts, we first think of those affected by the accident who suffered physical damage or even died. And we think of those who, due to the accident, have to continue their lives without the usual atmosphere of safety in their homes, those who will have to wait a long time until everything is back to the way it used to be prior to the accident.
Such a tragic accident also concerns everyone in the pipeline industry worldwide, because it destroys what we have worked for so hard in recent years: trust. We will soon have to struggle even harder for that trust, or public perception, when it comes to laying a new, necessary pipeline or repairing or reconstructing an old one. Such tragedies also destroy efforts to make the pipeline industry more attractive to junior staff. It will be even more difficult for us in the future to get well-trained employees to join our industry.
In future, we will therefore have to make even greater efforts to convey to the public, both to the authorities and to the population, the impression that pipelines represent only a minor risk if the necessary care is executed in the planning, construction and operation of pipelines.
We as planners and organizers of a major pipeline technology show and as editors of the international Pipeline Technology Journal (ptj) have long since recognized this task and have therefore for many years placed our Pipeline Technology Conference (ptc) in Berlin under the main heading of safety in the pipeline industry. Recently, we have increasingly focused on people and the impact of our actions on the outside world and have received a great deal of support for it.
This support ultimately led us to add two side conferences to the Pipeline Technology Conference, one on Public Perception and the other one on Qualification & Recruitment.
These measures alone are not enough to achieve and maintain a positive image of the pipeline industry. We need to change our behavior and to make our safety efforts pro-actively known to the public. We should also strive to take new paths regarding education and training in order to develop the appropriate skill sets among employees at all levels of the pipeline companies. We can do this, but we have to develop the right instruments and for this we should exchange information on the international level in lectures and discussions in order to sort out the best solutions for the global pipeline industry and for all of its companies.