Wednesday, October 2, 2019

PHMSA Publishes Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Final Rule

Yesterday the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a final rule in the Federal Register (84 FR 52260-52298) on “Pipeline Safety: Safety of Hazardous Liquid Pipelines”. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for this rule was published in October 2015. The effective date for this rule is July 1st, 2020.


This rule amends the Pipeline Safety Regulations for the transport of hazardous liquids in pipelines. The rule:

Extends reporting requirements to certain hazardous liquid gravity and rural gathering lines;
Requires the inspection of pipelines in areas affected by extreme weather and natural disasters;
Requires integrity assessments at least once every 10 years of onshore hazardous liquid pipeline segments located outside of high consequence areas and that are “piggable”;
Extends the required use of leak detection systems beyond high consequence areas to all regulated, non-gathering hazardous liquid pipelines;
Requires that all pipelines in or affecting high consequence areas be capable of accommodating in-line inspection tools within 20 years, unless the basic construction of a pipeline cannot be modified to permit that accommodation;
Clarifies other regulations; and
Incorporates Sections 14 and 25 of the PIPES Act of 2016 to improve regulatory certainty and compliance.

Changes from NPRM

The preamble to this rule discusses the comments submitted in response to the NPRM provides the following responses:

Reporting Requirements for Gravity Lines: PHMSA will require operators of gravity lines to report information annually, starting 1 year from the rule's effective date, and to report accidents and safety-related conditions starting 6 months from the rule's effective date. PHMSA will exempt  pipelines located within the confines of a facility or in close proximity (within 1 mile) to a facility and do not cross a waterway currently used for commercial navigation from these reporting requirements. PHMSA does not require mapping of gravity lines at this time. PHMSA does not require telephonic reporting of accidents involving gravity lines at this time but may reassess this requirement in a future rulemaking.

Reporting Requirements for Gathering Lines: PHMSA has modified its existing reporting form to provide clear instructions, including skip patterns, on the relevant sections that gathering line operators must fill out. PHMSA is not imposing a pipeline mapping submission requirement on operators of gathering lines. PHMSA is not requiring telephonic reporting of accidents involving gathering lines.

Pipelines Affected by Extreme Weather and Natural Disasters: PHMSA adopted most of the changes proposed by the Liquid Pipeline Advisory Committee (LPAC) in the final rule under §§ 195.414(a), (b), and (c). PHMSA clarified that the cessation of the event occurs as soon as it is safe for personnel and equipment to access the area. PHMSA notes that the proposal did not require completion of the inspections within 72 hours, and neither does the final rule.

Periodic Assessment of Pipelines Not Subject to IM: PHMSA is limiting the assessment requirement to onshore, non-HCA, non-gathering lines that can accommodate inline inspection tools. PHMSA has determined that inline inspection (ILI) tools may not be available for all pipe diameters and threats being assessed, and providing operators the ability to use these other assessment methods on piggable lines is appropriate at this time. PHMSA has revised the final rule, at both §195.416 and §195.452, to require crack tools only when there is an identified or probable risk or threat supporting their use. PHMSA has expanded the assessment provisions to require operators to use a tool or tools capable of assessing seam integrity, cracking, and of detecting corrosion and deformation anomalies on low-frequency ERW pipe, pipe with a seam factor less than 1.0, or lap-welded pipe susceptible to longitudinal seam failure. PHMSA has revised §195.416 to be consistent with the revised requirements under §195.452 regarding the discovery of condition. PHMSA is specifying that these requirements apply to onshore, piggable line pipe not covered under the IM requirements, including the relevant line pipe within pump stations, but not other appurtenances and components like metering stations, tanks, etc.

IM and Non-IM Repair Criteria: PHMSA has decided to separate the repair-criteria provisions from this final rule.

Leak Detection Requirements: PHMSA is not extending leak detection requirements to offshore gathering lines or regulated rural gathering lines at this time. PHMSA is pursuing leak detection system performance criteria, valve spacing requirements, and automatic shutdown capability in a separate rulemaking.

Increased Use of ILI Tools in HCAs: No changes were made.

Clarifying Other Requirements: PHMSA agrees with commenters who believe hydrostatic testing is an acceptable baseline assessment method for newly constructed pipelines and is incorporating that option into this final rule.

PIPES Act of 2016

Changes were made to this rulemaking based upon specific requirements imposed by Congress in §14 and §25 of the Pipes Act of 2016. Since DOT had no discretion in implementing these requirements, a notice a comment period was deemed not to be necessary.

Section 14 requires owners and operators of hazardous liquid pipeline facilities, following accidents involving pipeline facilities that result in hazardous liquid spills and within 6 hours of a telephonic or electronic notice of the accident to the National Response Center, to provide safety data sheets on any spilled hazardous liquid to the designated Federal On-Scene Coordinator and appropriate State and local emergency responders. This was addressed by changes to §195.65.

Section 25 requires operators of any underwater hazardous liquid pipeline facility located in an HCA that is not an offshore pipeline facility and any portion of which is located at depths greater than 150 feet under the surface of the water to ensure that pipeline integrity assessments using internal inspection technology appropriate for the pipeline's integrity threats are completed not less often than once every 12 months. This was addressed by including a new §195.454.

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