[Docket No. PHMSA–2017–0152; Amdt. No. 195–104]
PHMSA published an Interim Final Rule (IFR) effective 2/25/2022 that defines “certain coastal waters” and “coastal beaches” and includes both in the definition of Unusually Sensitive Areas (USAs) for hazardous liquid pipelines. These areas include the Great Lakes and the territorial seas (12 miles from shore) all the way up to the influence of tidal waters (perhaps many miles inland). Tens of thousands of miles of shoreline are now defined as USAs, including many locations that are far from the coastline.
These definitions will have wide-reaching impacts because USAs are included in the definition of High Consequence Areas (HCAs) for hazardous liquid pipelines, which are used to determine the applicability of hazardous liquid Integrity Management Program (IMP) requirements. Expansion of USAs leads directly to the expansion of the miles of pipe included in IMPs. Also, the proximity of a pipeline to a USA is used to determine regulatory jurisdiction for hazardous liquid gathering lines. Therefore, the expansion of USAs causes more gathering pipelines to be jurisdictional (or have a higher level of jurisdiction). The types of pipelines impacted, and the impacts, are summarized below.
Onshore* Rural Hazardous Liquid Gathering Lines
The newly defined USAs will result in additional pipelines being classified as regulated rural gathering lines. An onshore rural hazardous liquid gathering line is subject to §195.11 if the pipeline:
- has a nominal diameter from 6-⅝ inches to 8-⅝ inches;
- has a stress level greater than 20 percent of the specified minimum yield strength (or if the stress level is unknown, or for non-steel pipelines, a pressure less than or equal to 125 psig); and
- is located within ¼ mile of a USA.
Pursuant to §195.11(c), an operator must comply with §195.11(b)(2)-(11) within 6 months from the date that a new USA has been identified (i.e., from 2/25/2022), except for the requirements for corrosion control which are subject to the compliance timelines in Part 195, subpart H.
An operator of a regulated rural hazardous liquid gathering line must:
- comply with reporting requirements in subpart B of Part 195;
- establish a maximum operating pressure of the pipeline in accordance with §195.406;
- install and maintain line markers in accordance with §195.410;
- establish and carry out a public education program in accordance with §195.440;
- establish and carry out a damage prevention program in accordance with §195.442;
- comply with corrosion control requirements in subpart H;
- establish and carry out a program to identify internal corrosion in accordance with §195.11(b)(10); and
- comply with operator qualification program requirements in accordance with subpart G of Part 195 and §195.505.
A new or replaced regulated rural hazardous liquid gathering line must also comply with the initial design, installation, construction inspection, and testing requirements in Part 195, unless that pipeline is being converted to service under §195.5.
Rural Low-Stress Hazardous Liquid Pipelines
Some Category 3 rural low-stress lines may become Categories 1 or 2 rural low stress lines (i.e., within ½ mile of a new USA) and, therefore, would be subject to hazardous liquid Integrity Management Program (IMP) requirements at §195.452(a). Pursuant to §195.12(e), a Category 3 rural low-stress line or any other pipeline that becomes a Category 1 or Category 2 rural low-stress line must comply with the IMP requirements within 12 months following the date the USA is identified (i.e., from 2/25/2022).
The Part 195 requirements applicable to low-stress pipelines located in rural areas depend on the pipeline’s proximity to a USA. Section 195.12 defines a low-stress rural pipeline as a line located in a rural area and having a maximum operating pressure corresponding to a stress level of 20 percent or less of the specified minimum yield strength (or if the stress level is unknown, or for non-steel pipelines, a pressure less than or equal to 125 psig). A rural low-stress line that is located within ½ mile of a USA (or alternatively, that could affect an HCA as determined in §195.452(a)) is a Category 1 or Category 2 rural low-stress line that must comply with all of the safety requirements in Part 195. Other rural low-stress pipelines not within ½ mile of a USA are Category 3 lines that must comply with all the requirements of Part 195 except the IMP requirements in §195.452.
All Hazardous Liquid Pipelines
There will be many more miles of hazardous liquid pipelines that “could affect” an HCA because USAs are HCAs. Thus, the expansion of USAs likewise expands HCAs. These newly covered pipeline miles must be added to a Baseline Assessment plan within 1 year of 2/25/2022, and have a baseline assessment within 5 years. They must have a means to detect leaks per 195.452(i)(3).
*Do not be confused by the word “onshore.” Many pipelines are underwater in coastal areas and still considered to be “onshore.” “Onshore” includes any pipeline that is not “beyond the line of ordinary low water along that portion of the coast of the United States that is in direct contact with the open seas and beyond the line marking the seaward limit of inland waters.” As the IFR states, “A pipeline could be located within certain coastal waters and be either ‘onshore’ or ‘offshore’ under §§192.3 and 195.2.”