PHMSA proposes pipeline safety changes [US]

In the July 10, 2015 Federal Register the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a proposed rule, amending its pipeline safety regulations in response to the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 (the 2011 Act).

Pipeline safety main changes:

Some of the major changes include a faster accident and incident reporting requirement, cost recovery for design review, and updates to operator qualification requirements.

  1. Accident and Incident Reporting

PHMSA is proposing to require accident and incident reporting to occur within one hour. A quicker reporting time is expected to increase public safety, protect the environment, and limit property damage. Operators will also be required to revise or confirm the initial notification within 48 hours of confirmed discovery of the accident or incident. To hasten the reporting of an accident or incident, PHMSA proposes defining “confirmed discovery” as “when there is sufficient information to determine that a reportable event has occurred even if an evaluation has not been completed.”

  1. Cost Recovery for Design Review

PHMSA is also proposing a rule that would permit it to recover its costs for design review work the agency performs for pipeline operators. PHMSA would institute a fee structure and assessment methodology to recover the costs associated with design reviews of new gas and hazardous liquid pipelines with either overall design and construction costs of at least $2,500,000,000 or that contain new and novel technologies.

  1. Operator Qualification Requirements

In addition, the PHMSA is proposing to expand the Operator Qualification scope to include new construction, previously excluded operation and maintenance tasks, and Type A gas gathering lines in Class 2 locations, Type B onshore gas gathering lines, and regulated rural hazardous liquid gathering lines; require operators use trained and qualified workers when performing new construction work; and add program effectiveness requirements for operators, and new record-keeping requirements.

Public comments will be accepted through September 8, 2015.

Red-on-line EHS Legal Specialist

Sources:

PHMSA, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Pipeline Safety: Operator Qualification, Cost Recovery, Accident and Incident Notification, and Other Pipeline Safety Proposed Changes, 80 FR 39915, July 10, 2015

49 CFR 190

40 CFR 191

40 CFR 192

40 CFR 195

40 CFR 199