In This Issue

New Rule for Pipeline Operator Public Awareness Programs

PHMSA has amended the requirements for pipeline operators to develop and implement public awareness (also known as public education) programs. The amendments for developing and implementing public awareness programs address the requirements of the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act (PSIA) of 2002 and incorporate by reference the guidelines provided in the American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 1162, “Public Awareness Programs for Pipeline Operators.” There is no intent to include within the scope of the rule any additional communications regarding new pipeline siting or construction, emergency communications necessary as a result of a pipeline accident, or operator performance results addressed through other means of communication or regulatory reporting.

This final rule takes effect on June 20, 2005, and requires compliance for most operators by June 20, 2006. Both 49 CFR part 192 (gas) and 195 (liquid) are modified to incorporate API RP 1162 by reference. In addition, their respective existing requirements for public awareness programs have been replaced with the following text:

Note: Text specific to Gas pipelines is GREEN. Text specific to Liquid pipelines is BLUE.

§ 192.616 195.440 Public awareness.

  1. Each pipeline operator must develop and implement a written continuing public education program that follows the guidance provided in the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 1162 (IBR, see § 192.7 195.3).
  2. The operator’s program must follow the general program recommendations of API RP 1162 and assess the unique attributes and characteristics of the operator’s pipeline and facilities.
  3. The operator must follow the general program recommendations, including baseline and supplemental requirements of API RP 1162, unless the operator provides justification in its program or procedural manual as to why compliance with all or certain provisions of the recommended practice is not practicable and not necessary for safety.
  4. The operator’s program must specifically include provisions to educate the public, appropriate government organizations, and persons engaged in excavation related activities on:
    1. Use of a one-call notification system prior to excavation and other damage prevention activities;
    2. Possible hazards associated with unintended releases from a gas hazardous liquid or carbon dioxide pipeline facility;
    3. Physical indications that such a release may have occurred;
    4. Steps that should be taken for public safety in the event of a gas hazardous liquid or carbon dioxide pipeline release; and
    5. Procedures for reporting to report such an event.
  5. The program must include activities to advise affected municipalities, school districts, businesses, and residents of pipeline facility locations.
  6. The program and the media used must be as comprehensive as necessary to reach all areas in which the operator transports gas hazardous liquid or carbon dioxide.
  7. The program must be conducted in English and in other languages commonly understood by a significant number and concentration of the non-English speaking population in the operator’s area.
  8. Operators in existence on June 20, 2005, must have completed their written programs no later than June 20, 2006. As an exception, operators of small propane distribution systems having less than 25 customers and master meter operators having less than 25 customers must have completed development and documentation of their programs no later than June 20, 2007. Upon request, operators must submit their completed programs to PHMSA or, in the case of an intrastate pipeline facility operator, the appropriate State agency.
  9. The operator’s program documentation and evaluation results must be available for periodic review by appropriate regulatory agencies.

Shameless commerce plug: RCP’s Susan Waller was on the committee that developed API RP 1162, and is actively involved with several operators to ensure their public awareness programs meet these new requirements. Susan can be contacted at, 832-255-7822.