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RRC Launches Drone Inspection Team

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) announced Monday that it launched a statewide drone inspection team last month.

Drones will help inspectors to quickly respond and inspect sites that are unsafe or inaccessible during emergencies such as fires, flooding and other natural disasters, according to the RRC, which said that drones can also assist in situations such as the current pandemic.

The RRC drone inspection team’s first emergency response was on April 28, following reports of an incident in Reeves County west of Midland, the RRC revealed. The affected area could not be physically inspected because the road to the site was under water, the RRC outlined.

“Our very first flight mission in Reeves County is a great example of how drones will enable inspectors to do their jobs quickly and safely in emergencies, which ultimately helps further protect residents and the environment,” RRC’s Executive Director Wei Wang said in an organization statement.

“Whether it’s through information technology or other new tools, the commission has always been looking at ways to enhance our operational efficiency. With drones, our inspectors can now immediately monitor well blowouts, oil spills, and other emergency incidents, and quickly cover large areas of ground in responding to those situations where time is of the essence,” Wang added.

Nineteen inspectors in the RRC’s Oil and Gas Division and Surface Mining and Reclamation Division (SMRD) have received remote pilot certification from the Federal Aviation Administration, the RRC highlighted. 

The RRC said its drone program will operate in compliance with the Code of Federal Regulations as well as state laws established to ensure safety and the protection of individual and property owners’ privacy.

Through its oil and gas division, the RRC regulates the exploration, production and transportation of oil and natural gas in Texas. 

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