Wednesday, January 30, 2013

PHMSA Revises Time Standard for Reporting Pipeline Incidents

Today the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration published an advisory bulleting (ADB-2013-01) in the Federal Register (78 FR 6402-6403) revising the expected reporting time frame for pipeline accidents and incidents for which pipeline operators are required to provide telephonic or electronic reports to the National Response Center. The notice also notes that PHMSA will be issuing new regulations formalizing that expected response time in accordance with §9 of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 (PL 112-90).

Current regulations (49 CFR §191.5 and §195.52) require pipeline owners and operators to notify the NRC by telephone or electronically at the earliest practicable moment following discovery. In a 2002 advisory notice (67 FR 57060) PHMSA clarified that “at the earliest practicable opportunity” usually means one-to-two hours after discovery of the incident. In this advisory PHMSA is changing that guideline to one-hour.

The advisory goes on to explain that the information to be included in that initial report includes:

• The name of the operator;

• The name and telephone number of the person making the report;

• The location of the incident;

• The number of fatalities and injuries; and

• All other significant facts that are relevant to the cause of the incident or extent of the damages.

PHMSA will be issuing a regulatory change to reflect these new requirements.

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