Wednesday, March 11, 2015

PHMSA Publishes Pipeline Safety Regulation Update Final Rule

Today the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration published a final rule in the Federal Register (80 FR 12762-12781) updating various portions of the Pipeline Safety Regulations. The NPRM for this rulemaking was published in November 2011.

These amendments address several subject matter areas for both gas and hazardous material pipelines including:

● The performance of post-construction inspections;
● Leak surveys of Type B onshore gas gathering lines;
● Qualifying plastic pipe joiners;
● Regulation of ethanol;
● Transportation of pipe;
● Filing of offshore pipeline condition reports; and
● Calculation of pressure reductions for hazardous liquid pipeline anomalies.

Based upon public comments submitted in response to the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) PHMSA made the following changes to the proposed rulemaking:

● Responsibility to Conduct Construction Inspections, expanded to include both gas and hazardous material pipelines and revised to more clearly identify the types of individuals who should be excluded from the required inspections {§192.305 and §195.204};
Qualifying Plastic Pipe Joiners, to provide greater scheduling flexibility and require requalification of a joiner if any production joint is found unacceptable {§192.285(c)};
Calculating Pressure Reductions for Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Integrity Anomalies, PHMSA is is adopting LPAC’s suggested language as it best clarifies that an operator must calculate remaining strength or reduce operating pressure until a repair can be completed {§ 195.452(h)(4)(i)};
Alternative MAOP Notifications, PHMSA is changing the advance notification requirement from 180 days to 60 days {§ 192.620(c)(1)};
Welders vs. Welding Operators, PHMSA is now citing Appendix A as being applicable to welding and welding operators {§192.225, §192.227, §192.229, §195.214, and §195.222};
Odorization of Gas Transmission Lateral Lines, PHMSA is re-evaluating the proposal and may consider it in a future rulemaking.

PHMSA included a number of editorial type changes in the NPRM and all of them are included in the final rule. Additionally, the following editorial changes have also been included, but were not discussed in the NPRM:

Hazardous Liquid Construction Notifications, PHMSA makes it clear that they do not want to be notified of hazardous liquid pipeline facility construction with a cost of less than ten million dollars, so § 195.64(c)(1)(iii) is being deleted.

The effective date for this rule is October 1, 2015 and immediate compliance is authorized.

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