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.