Maine’s Updated Damage Prevention Regulations

[Chapter 420 – Safety Standards for Natural Gas and LNG Facility Operators]

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) has updated it General regulation. These updates make this regulation more in alignment with the PHMSA regulations. There are several new definitions, such as Leak Progression Map, Main, Operator, Pipe Appurtenance and Critical Valve. The definition of a Service Line was changed to identify the end as being either the outlet of the meter or at the beginning of the customer’s pipe, whichever is the furthest downstream.

There are several changes to the Damage Prevention program requirements. The Operator, if notified, is now required to have an observer on site when trenchless technology, like directional drilling, is used by a third party. The Damage Prevention program will include procedures that the Operator will use to protect the gas pipelines during trenchless excavations. The updated regulation includes references to several industry standards to be used in the development of these procedures. The content of the communication to excavators will need to be updated to reflect these new procedures. For excavators that are clearing sewer lines, this communication must also include information about the hazards of cross boring gas facilities. Any excavation work requires the operator to identify the GPS coordinates of any underground facilities, including its depth.

Locator training now must include the best practices identified by the Common Ground Alliance and any local underground damage prevention regulations. Training documentation and qualification records are specifically called out for retention. One of the items Locators and persons observing excavations will have to be trained on is the collection and recording of GPS data when underground facilities (critical valves, intersections with service lines or mains and directional information) are exposed.

Reporting an incident no longer needs to be done within 1 hour. There is language now to allow for reporting as soon as practical and employees and the public are safe. Reporting the details of the incident are to be done on the MPUC Underground Facility Incident Reporting Form.

The updated regulation has stated its preference that all new meters are to be located outside of buildings but still allows for meters to be installed inside if outside is not feasible. Operators cannot install Master meters unless the downstream piping is operated and maintained by a pipeline operator. The depth of cover for pipe in Right of Ways has been decreased from 36 inches to 24 inches as measured from the top of the shallowest pipe appurtenance. This means that pipe may have to be buried deeper than the older requirement of 36 inches. This also applies to service lines. The term ‘critical valve’ was added to the definitions. These valves will have to be added to the annual valve inspection program.

There are some new requirements for leakage surveys. After a repair, a new leak survey is required. If the retest still shows leakage, additional repair work is required. After three attempts to repair, the risk model must be updated and a new repair cycle is started. A risk-based approach to determining the frequency of the leak surveys is required and new details for those surveys as input to the risk assessment.

The Control Room Management Plan as been added to the list of manuals to be submitted to the MPUC.

The MPUC has updated its enforcement procedures to be more in alignment with PHMSA’s enforcement procedures. Gone are the terms Informal Disposition of Probable Violation, Written Formal and Commission Action. They have been replaced with Field Corrective Action, Notice of Probable Violation and Formal MPUC Action. They added Reinforcement Reminder, which may be either oral or written, for MPUC employees to identify to the Operator any issues of concern. Another new section that was added is Request for Information. This new section sets out the timeframes for the Operator to respond when the MPUC makes one of these requests.

For more information about this rule or how RCP can assist you with implementation of the compliance programs required within this rule, contact Jessica Foley.