Important bulletin from PHMSA to Pipeline Owners & Operators!
Did you know…PHMSA regulations do not recognize an “idle” status for hazardous liquid or gas pipelines. The regulations consider pipelines to be either active and fully subject to all parts of the safety regulations or abandoned. Pipelines that aren’t currently in operation are sometimes informally referred to as “idled,” “inactive,” or “decommissioned.” These pipelines may have been shut down and still contain hazardous liquids or gas.
A previous pipeline failure raised concerns about the need to remind operators about the proper way to purge and clean inactive pipelines in order to protect the environment and communities around them.
In the “Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016,” Congress required PHMSA to issue an advisory bulletin to owners and operators of gas or hazardous liquid pipeline facilities and Federal and State pipeline safety personnel regarding procedures required to change the status of a pipeline facility from active to abandoned.
Pipelines abandoned after the effective date of the regulations must comply with requirements to purge all combustibles and seal any facilities left in place. The last owner or operator of abandoned offshore facilities and abandoned onshore facilities that cross over, under, or through commercially navigable waterways must file a report with PHMSA. PHMSA regulations define the term “abandoned” to mean permanently removed from service.
Owners and operators of pipelines that are not operating but contain hazardous liquids and gas must comply with all applicable safety requirements, including periodic maintenance, integrity management assessments, damage prevention programs, response planning, and public awareness programs.
PHMSA is considering proposing procedures in a future rulemaking that would address methods owners or operators could use to notify regulators of purged but active pipelines.
For more questions or concerns contact Ms. Linda Daugherty at 816-329-3800 or by email to Linda.Daugherty@dot.gov.