Monday, October 12, 2015

PHMSA Publishes Hazardous Liquid Pipeline NPRM

The DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a notice of proposed rulemaking in tomorrow’s Federal Register (80 FR 61609-61643; available on line Saturday) proposing to make changes to the hazardous liquid pipeline safety regulations. The advance notice of proposed rulemaking was published in October 2010. I submitted comments to the ANPRM dealing with poisonous inhalation hazard (PIH) chemicals in liquid pipelines.

PHMSA is proposing to make the following changes to the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Regulations:

Extend reporting requirements to all hazardous liquid gravity and gathering lines;
Require inspections of pipelines in areas affected by extreme weather, natural disasters, and other similar events;
Use of leak detection systems on hazardous liquid pipelines in all locations;
• Modify the provisions for making pipeline repairs;
• Require that all pipelines subject to the IM requirements be capable of accommodating inline inspection tools within 20 years; and
• Other regulations will be clarified to improve certainty and compliance.

Extend Reporting Requirements

PHMSA notes that there are apparently a small number of gravity pipelines (pipelines that carry product by means of gravity) that are of sufficient length and have enough change in elevation that they can develop significant pressure and could have significant consequences in the event of a release. In order for PHMSA to adequately assess the safety performance and risk of these gravity pipelines PHMSA is proposing to add 49 CFR 195.13 [NOTE: the preamble to the rule provides an incorrect reference to the regulation being changed for gravity pipelines] to require that the operators of all gravity lines comply with requirements for submitting annual, safety-related condition, and incident reports.

PHMSA is also proposing to add §195 reporting requirements for all hazardous liquid gathering lines. PHMSA currently regulates only about 10% of the on-shore gathering lines in the United States. Based upon a recently conducted study of gathering line regulations, PHMSA is proposing additional regulations to ensure the safety of hazardous liquid gathering lines. To support that regulation PHMSA is proposing to add §195.1(a)(5) to require that the operators of all gathering lines (whether onshore, offshore, regulated, or unregulated) comply with requirements for submitting annual, safety-related condition, and incident reports.

Inspections Due to Extreme Weather or Natural Disasters

The preamble to the NPRM provides a list of hazardous liquid pipeline releases that resulted from damage to pipelines due to extreme weather events or other natural disasters. In order to prevent such releases PHMSA is proposing in a new §194.414 to require that operators perform an additional inspection within 72 hours after the cessation of an extreme weather event such as a hurricane or flood, an earthquake, a natural disaster, or other similar event. Additionally, the operator would be required to take remedial actions based upon the results of that inspection.

Extending IM Requirements to non-HCA Pipeline Segments

PHMSA is proposing that non-HCA (High Consequence Area) sections of pipelines also undergo periodic (but less frequent) inspections. The proposed §195.416 would require operators to assess non-HCA (non-IM) pipeline segments with an inline inspection (ILI) tool at least once every 10 year. The proposal includes provisions for alternative inspection techniques if inline inspection is not possible.

Additionally, PHMSA is proposing to change the IM repair criteria and apply them to non-HCA pipeline segments as well. PHMSA would revise the criteria in §195.452(h) for IM repairs would be modified to:

• Categorize bottom-side dents with stress risers as immediate repair conditions;
• Require immediate repairs whenever the calculated burst pressure is less than 1.1 times maximum operating pressure;
• Eliminate the 60-day and 180-day repair categories; and
• Establish a new, consolidated 270-day repair category.

Expand the Use of Leak Detection Systems

First PHMSA is proposing to amend §195.134 to require all hazardous liquid pipelines be designed to include leak detection systems. Actually the preamble states that the change applies to “all new [emphasis added] hazardous liquid pipelines”, but the actual regulatory wording does not specifically make that distinction.

They are also proposing to amend §195.444 to require than an evaluation be performed to determine what kinds of systems must be installed to adequately protect the public, property, and the environment.

Inline Inspection Tools

According to the preamble “PHMSA is proposing to require that all hazardous liquid pipelines in HCA's and areas that could affect an HCA be made capable of accommodating III tools within 20 years, unless the basic construction of a pipeline will not accommodate the passage of such a device”. The minor revisions being proposed to §195.120 make no changes to the basic wording describing to which pipeline segments the internal inspection requirements apply. The changes in §195.120(d) would eliminate the current “construction time constraints and other unforeseen construction problems” as reasons for allowing emergency construction/replacement of a hazardous liquid pipeline with a segment that would not allow the passage of an instrumented internal inspection tool.

Clarify other Requirements

PHMSA would amend the table in §195.452(b)(1) to resolve an inconsistency by eliminating the one-year compliance deadline for Category 3 pipelines. An operator of a new pipeline would be required to develop its written IM program before the pipeline begins operation.

PHMSA is proposing to add additional specificity to paragraph §195.452(g) by establishing a number of pipeline attributes that must be included in these analyses and to require explicitly that operators integrate analyzed information. PHMSA is also proposing that operators consider explicitly any spatial relationships among anomalous information.

PHMSA is proposing to modify §195.452(d) to ensure that operators conduct new baseline assessments within one year for pipeline segments where new information shows that there might be a change to identification as an HCA segment.

Public Comments

PHMSA is soliciting public comments on this NPRM. Comments may be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal (; Docket # PHMSA-2010-0229). Comments should be submitted by January 8th, 2016.

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