Monday, December 27, 2021

PHMSA Publishes Unusually Sensitive Areas Interim Final Rule

Today the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a pipeline safety interim final rule (IFR) in the Federal Register (86 FR 73173-73186) for “Unusually Sensitive Areas for the Great Lakes,  Coastal Beaches, and Certain Coastal Waters”. The IFR amends “the pipeline safety regulations to explicitly state that certain coastal waters, the Great Lakes, and coastal beaches are classified as unusually sensitive areas for the purpose of compliance with the hazardous liquid integrity management regulations.”

The rule makes two changes to 49 CFR 195.6, Unusually Sensitive Areas (USAs), pursuant to the requirements of §120 of the PIPES Act of 2020 (PL 116-260). First, in paragraph (b) it adds “A coastal beach” and “Certain coastal waters” to the definition of an unusually sensitive area. Then in paragraph (c) it adds definitions of those two terms. These additions to the USA definition expand the coverage of PHMSA’s integrity management rules as these areas now become high consequence areas (HCAs) as defined in 49 CFR 195.450.

The effective date for this IFR is February 25th, 2022. PHMSA is soliciting public comments on the IFR. Those comments will not affect the application of the IFR, but may be considered in the development of the final rule. Comments may be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal (; docket #PHMSA-2017-0152).

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