PHMSA Now Requires Faster Pipeline Accident Notification

PHMSA Final Rule Requires Faster Notification Following Pipeline Accidents
 

On Thursday, January 19, 2017 PHMSA issued a final rule titled, “Operator Qualification, Cost Recovery, Accident and Incident Notification, and Other Pipeline Safety Changes.” The purpose of the rulemaking is to strengthen the Federal pipeline safety regulations and to address sections 9 and 13 of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 (2011 Act).
 

The amendments codified by this final rule are included below:

1. Specifying an operator’s accident and incident reporting time to not later than one hour after confirmed discovery and requiring revision or confirmation of initial notification within 48 hours of the confirmed discovery of the accident or incident;

2. Setting up a cost recovery fee structure for design review of new gas and hazardous liquid pipelines with either overall design and construction costs totaling at least $2,500,000,000 or that contain new and novel technologies;

3. Addressing the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) recommendation to clarify training requirements for control room personnel;

4. Providing a renewal procedure for expiring special permits;

5. Excluding farm taps from the requirements of the Distribution Integrity Management Program (DIMP) requirements while proposing safety requirements for the farm taps;

6. Requiring pipeline operators to report to PHMSA a change in product (e.g., from liquid to gas, from crude oil to highly volatile liquids (HVL)) or a permanent reversal of flow that lasts more than 30 days;

7. Providing methods for assessment tool selection by incorporating consensus standards by reference in part 195 for stress corrosion cracking direct assessment (SCCDA) that were not developed when the Integrity Management (IM) regulations were issued;

8. Requiring electronic reporting of drug and alcohol testing results in part 199;

9. Modifying the criteria used to make decisions about conducting post-accident drug and alcohol tests and requiring operators to keep for at least 3 years a record of the reason why post-accident drug and alcohol tests were not conducted;

10. Including the procedure to request protection for confidential commercial information submitted to PHMSA;

11. Adding reference to appendix B of API 1104 related to in-service welding in parts 192 and 195; and

12. Amending minor editorial corrections
 

The rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on January 23, 2017 and will be effective on March 24, 2017.

Critical Final Rule on Safety Improvements for Pipelines Signed!

PHMSA Completes Rulemaking that Boosts Safety Requirements to Strengthen the Operation, Maintenance, and Inspection of the Nation’s Hazardous Liquid Pipelines

On January 13, 2017, Administrator Marie Theresa Dominquez, head of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) signed a long awaited rulemaking package that makes critical safety improvements for on-shore hazardous liquid pipelines.

The United States contains around 200,000 miles of hazardous liquid pipelines which operate through various communities, cherished lands, bodies of water, and numerous state borders. “As the use of hazardous liquid pipelines to transport the nation’s energy grows, communities around the country have demanded regulatory certainty around the safe operation of these lines and facilities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This rule gives operators clear direction on the design, construction, and operation of hazardous liquid pipelines lines and holds them accountable for the safety of the communities they serve- its full implementation will be a vital step in driving our pipeline safety mission.”

The Rulemaking Package addresses the following:

1. Requires operators to integrate available data on-

• The operating environment
• Pipeline condition
• Known manufacturing defects
• Known construction defects

2. Requires pipeline operators to have a system for detection leaks

3. Establish a timeline for inspecting affected pipelines following an extreme weather event or natural disaster

4. Operators are required to annually evaluate protective measures they are already required to implement on pipeline segments that operator in High Consequence Areas (HCA) where pipeline failures have the highest potential for human or environmental damage, and implement additional measures as necessary

5. The Rule sets a deadline for operators to use internal inspection tools where possible for any new and replaced pipeline that could affect an HCA

6. The Rule updates repair criteria under PHMSA’s risk-based management framework by expanding the list of conditions that require immediate repair

“The changing energy environment in the United States requires that we all become increasingly anticipatory, predictive, and prepared for emerging risks,” said PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez. “This is a forward looking rule- it pushes operators to invest in increased data capabilities, to continuously improve their processes to assess and mitigate risk, and strengthens our framework for strong prescriptive regulations.”

The Final Rulemaking has been transmitted to the Federal Register for publication. An actual date of publication will be determined by the Federal Register, and PHMSA will update its website with a link when it is published.