The Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a safety advisory notice in today’s Federal Register (78 FR 41991-41993) concerning the potential for damage to pipeline facilities caused by severe flooding. This Advisory Bulletin is the latest in a series of such bulletins on this topic.
The Advisory lists nine specific actions that pipeline operators should take before, during and after a flooding event:
• Evaluate the accessibility of pipeline facilities that may be in jeopardy;
• Extend regulator vents and relief stacks above the level of anticipated flooding;
• Coordinate with emergency and spill responders on pipeline location and condition;
• Deploy personnel so that they will be in position to take emergency actions;
• Determine if facilities that are normally above ground have become submerged and are in danger of being struck by vessels or debris;
• Perform frequent patrols, including appropriate overflights, to evaluate right-of-way conditions at water crossings during flooding and after waters subside; and
• Ensure that line markers are still in place or replaced in a timely manner.
Finally PHMSA reminds operators that:
“If a pipeline has suffered damage, is shut-in, or is being operated at a reduced pressure as a precautionary measure due to flooding, the operator should advise the appropriate PHMSA regional office or state pipeline safety authority before returning the line to service, increasing its operating pressure, or otherwise changing its operating status.”