April 2023 Issue
In This Issue
- Transportation Security Administration Releases Pipeline Physical Security Considerations
- PHMSA Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization (NGDISM) Grant Program
- PHMSA Safety of Underground Natural Gas Storage Public Meeting
- PHMSA Survey of Voluntary Adoption of API RP 1173 for Gas Distribution Systems
- PHMSA Grants for Pipeline Safety Programs
- Texas Railroad Commission POC Electronic Filing
- Did you know?
- The Enforcement Corner
- April | National Safe Digging Month
- Q&A Section
Transportation Security Administration Releases Pipeline Physical Security Considerations
TSA has offered additional considerations for pipeline physical security that align with TSA’s Pipeline Security Guidelines [March 2018, Change 1 (April 2021)]. Operators are encouraged to monitor critical facilities for any suspicious activity and to engage with local authorities to educate them on the location of critical facilities. For a copy of TSA’s “Pipeline Physical Security Considerations” contact Jessica Foley.
PHMSA Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization (NGDISM) Grant Program
On April 5, 2023, PHMSA announced a historic $196 million in grants for 37 projects spread across 19 states. This new grant program helps improve public safety, protect public health, and reduce methane emissions from natural gas distribution pipes. The Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization (NGDISM) grant program provides nearly $1 billion in funding over the course of five years to modernize municipally and community-owned natural gas distribution pipes, helping to keep communities across the country safe from pipeline leaks. These grants are projected to create hundreds of jobs in rural and urban communities around the U.S. Grant funding recipients will repair, replace, or rehabilitate nearly 270 miles of pipe, thereby reducing methane emissions by approximately 212 metric tons annually.
Department of Transportation officials will spread out across the country, delivering the grant funding to more than 20 communities beginning with Las Cruces, New Mexico, awarding $10 million to the City of Las Cruces.
The next funding opportunity of $392 million is expected to be released in May of this year. For more information about this grant, including additional resources and information for applicants and stakeholders, click here.
PHMSA Safety of Underground Natural Gas Storage Public Meeting
[Docket No. PHMSA-2023-0009]
PHMSA will host a two-day public meeting titled: “Safety of Underground Natural Gas Storage Public Meeting” in Broomfield, Colorado. The purpose of the public meeting is to share important safety information with the public and industry, as well as gather input to inform future rulemaking decisions.
The public meeting and forum will be held May 16–17, 2023, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (MT). Persons who wish to attend the meeting are asked to register no later than April 21, 2023. Individuals requiring accommodations, such as sign language interpretation or other aids, are asked to notify Kimberly Harrigan at K.Harrigan.firstname.lastname@example.org no later than April 21, 2023.
The public meeting will be held at the Renaissance Boulder Flatiron Hotel, 500 Flatiron Boulevard, Broomfield, Colorado. The agenda and instructions on how to attend are available on the meeting website.
PHMSA Survey of Voluntary Adoption of API RP 1173 for Gas Distribution Systems
[Docket No. PHMSA-2022-0060]
PHMSA has revised the voluntary PSMS implementation survey form for gas distribution operators and is open for a 30-day public comment period ending May 11, 2023. For a copy of the revised form, contact Jessica Foley. Comments can be submitted electronically at https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain.
RCP Offers PSMS Development and Gap Analysis
RCP has extensive experience in developing, assessing, and implementing safety management systems. RCP subject matter experts played an instrumental role in conducting industry research for the development and creation of API 1173, including the public awareness materials and the planning, implementation, and program effectiveness tools used throughout the industry.
PSMS programs provide proven benefits to operational productivity and efficiency through:
– Improving personnel and pipeline safety performance
– Installing a continuous improvement mindset
– Enabling active engagement with company leadership
Contact Jessica Foley to discuss how investing in your Pipeline Safety Management System can benefit you!
PHMSA Grants for Pipeline Safety Programs
PHMSA announced more than $25 million available in grant funding through its pipeline and hazardous materials safety programs. These grants are for projects that will train first responders, strengthen safety programs, improve safety, reduce environmental impacts, and educate the public on local safety initiatives. This includes projects that provide support to state inspectors for hazardous materials shipments and pipelines inspections, important safety training and educational programs for emergency response, and advance innovative safety technologies. The funding will go towards the following grants:
- Pipeline Emergency Response Grants
- Competitive Academic Agreement Program Grants
- Technical Assistance Grants
- State Damage Prevention Grants
- One-Call Grants
Hazardous Materials Safety
- Hazardous Materials Instructor Training Grants
- Hazardous Materials State Inspection Grants
- Assistance for Local Emergency Response Training Grants
- Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness Tribal Grants
- Supplemental Public Sector Training Grants
- Community Safety Grants
The Notices of Funding Opportunities provide more details on eligibility. Each official notice of funding opportunity is available here under Department of Transportation-PHMSA on the agency drop-down menu. Applicants can also contact the appropriate agency representative identified in the respective notice of funding opportunity with further questions.
Texas Railroad Commission POC Electronic Filing
Effective September 1, 2023, the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) will no longer accept hard copy filings of Plan of Correction (POC) letters by mail. Pipeline operators must submit POC letters, including completion documentation, by email to Safety@rrc.texas.gov or online using the RRC’s Pipeline, Inspection, Permitting and Evaluation System (RRC PIPES) available on the RRC website here. Submission using email or RRC PIPES ensures efficient and timely filing. To view the full notice, visit the RRC website.
Did you know?
DID YOU KNOW? Natural gas and the nation’s natural gas infrastructure is essential for a thriving agriculture sector in the United States, benefiting farmers and consumers alike. From the fertilizer used in fields and the fuel used to run equipment, to the energy to process, store and transport our nation’s food supply to feed 330 million Americans and the countless individuals overseas who depend on U.S. agricultural exports, natural gas plays critical in the U.S. agriculture sector. “Advancing America’s Agriculture: The Value of Natural Gas to U.S. Agriculture and Agrochemicals,” a study from the American Gas Association, details the direct and critical impacts of the availability of low-cost natural gas to the cost of food on grocery store shelves globally. Learn more about the important role natural gas plays in our nation’s agriculture sector here.
The Enforcement Corner
The Enforcement Corner summarizes recent PHMSA enforcement actions, indicating where PHMSA is putting its enforcement efforts and the fines they are proposing for various types of violations.
In February 2023, PHMSA issued 3 NOAs, 1 NOPSO, 4 NOPVs, and 11 WLs accompanied by $76,100 in proposed fines. Significant proposed fines were attributed to the following code sections:
- $5,500 – 49 CFR 199.105(c)(6) – Drug Tests Required
- $50,200 – 49 CFR 195.452(h)(4)(i) – Immediate Repair Conditions
- $20,400 – 49 CFR 191.22(c)(1)(ii) – Construction of New Pipelines
- Pipeline operators may disagree in whole or in part with each proposed violation cited by PHMSA.
- Proposed Civil Penalties (PCP) may be reduced or eliminated before an enforcement action becomes final.
- A Corrective Action Order (CAO) usually addresses urgent situations arising out of an accident, spill, or other significant, immediate, or imminent safety or environmental concern.
- A Notice of Amendment (NOA) is frequently a result of a difference of opinion regarding written procedure requirements.
- A Notice of Proposed Safety Order (NOPSO) addresses pipeline integrity risks that may not constitute a hazardous facility requiring immediate corrective action (see Corrective Action Order described above),but do need to be addressed over time.
- A Notice of Probable Violation (NOPV) is not proof that a violation actually occurred.
- A Proposed Compliance Order (PCO) frequently documents actions the pipeline operator already planned to do.
- Warning Letter (WL) is an official notice by PHMSA that an operator needs to make improvements but that no further enforcement is proposed for those findings at this time.
RCP maintains a detailed database of all PHMSA enforcement actions dating back to 2007 and is routinely asked for data analysis of various enforcement actions. For more information on how RCP can assist with enforcement action data analysis services, contact Jessica Foley.
Need to respond to a PHMSA enforcement action?
Need to know if your enforcement action is an outlier, or par for the course?
RCP maintains a detailed database of all PHMSA enforcement actions and their resolution which enables us to compare and contrast individual enforcement actions to nationwide actions and trends. We can help put things into context to ensure an effective reply for each citation. For more information on how RCP can assist with enforcement action data analysis services, contact Jessica Foley.
April | National Safe Digging Month
The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) is excited to launch several new tools and graphics to support your outreach this April – including their new Excavator Toolkit and 2023 National Safe Digging Month (NSDM) press release.
Visit CGA’s new Excavator Toolkit page to download a range of resources that you can use to meet the “50 in 5” challenge, activate for specific NSDM campaigns, or implement throughout the year. The Excavator Toolkit contains:
- Internal messaging: Are you a contractor new to CGA? This tool can help you introduce CGA and NSDM to your employees via email, newsletter or other digital media.
- Toolbox Talk one-pager: An eye-catching flier that can be used to guide a daily Toolbox Talk or Safety Moment dedicated to 811 and safe excavation practices.
- Infographics: A suite of four graphics is available for use on social media or in newsletters, presentations and other outreach. Based on DIRT data and inclusive of 811 campaign messaging updates, these tools are designed to help target top damage root causes.
- Social media messages: Crafted to work in conjunction with the infographics or on their own, these excavator-targeted social messages encourage effective and consistent use of the 811 system and adherence to CGA Best Practices.
Do you have questions? RCP’s SMEs have the answers. Information will be posted here for questions we often get from clients or discussions we have with regulators, interpretations and pending regulatory deadlines.
Q: Must centrifugal pumps injecting liquids into a pipeline have high pressure shutdown devices?
A: It depends on the “dead head” pressure of the pump. If the maximum pressure developed by the pump is lower than the MOP of the pipeline, there is no need for a separate high pressure shutdown device because the pump cannot over-pressure the pipeline. The operator should document those facts, and be aware that if the MOP of the pipeline is reduced in the future, pressure shutdowns might need to be added to the pump. Thermal relief devices for the piping may still be required.
Ask the Experts
Do you have a question for the experts at RCP? Submit your question using this form. If your question is selected for a future newsletter, you will be eligible for a gift of your choice from RCP’s online Store.
- April 10, 2023, the Valve Rule is now fully in effect and requires all new and entirely replaced gas transmission and liquids pipelines subject to PHMSA’s new RMV rule to comply from that point forward unless alternative technologies are approved by PHMSA for a particular instance. The new RMV’s will have to be operational within 14 days of placing the new line or replacement segment in service.
- The onshore gas gathering rule was published April 8, 2022. Portions became effective May 16, 2022 – Reporting of Incidents for the new Type C & R.
- Full identification by Type and Class location was to be completed by November 16, 2022
- For the newly identified Type C that must have the MAOP established, the deadline for boosting system pressure to take advantage of “highest actual operating pressure” as permitted by 192.619(a)(3) is coming fast – May 16, 2023
- And as a reminder, the “Stay of Enforcement” does not mean regulators don’t expect work toward getting compliance activities to be taking place.
If we can help, contact Jessica Foley.
We would welcome the opportunity to discuss our services with you.
W. R. (Bill) Byrd, PE