DOT Pipeline Compliance News

December 2006 Issue

In This Issue

DOT Pipeline Compliance Workshop – December 8, 2006

RCP will be hosting our very popular workshops on DOT Pipeline Compliance on December 8 in Park City, Utah. Join us for an informative, lively, and interactive workshop on DOT Pipeline Compliance. This workshop has been attended by hundreds of pipeline personnel, with excellent feedback. The workshop provides an overview of the DOT pipeline regulations, and is appropriate for people who are new to pipeline regulations, or who could use a refresher.

Introduction to DOT/PHMSA Pipeline Regulations

  • Agency jurisdictions – what does DOT/PHMSA regulate anyway?
    • Important definitions
    • Important letters of clarification from the agency
    • Recent EPA/DOI memorandums of understanding
  • State and Federal program variations, roles and responsibilities
  • Gas and liquid design, construction, operations, maintenance, and emergency response requirements
  • Spill response planning requirements
  • How to monitor rulemaking activity and stay current with your compliance program
  • Discussion of potential rulemaking – liquid gathering rules, controller certification, etc.

Your Instructor: As principal of RCP, Mr. Byrd enjoys a solid reputation for working with the public, corporate management, and regulatory agencies to resolve complex regulatory issues. He serves on various industry association committees, works as an expert witness and consulting expert, and is frequently called upon to comment on current or proposed rulemakings at public and private meetings and conferences.

For additional information, including a seminar brochure, go to our website here.

EPA Proposes Emissions Rule for Gasoline Terminals, Pipeline Farms

EPA has proposed a rule that would set air emission standards for bulk gasoline terminals, pipeline facilities, and bulk gasoline plants. An alternative would also apply to gasoline dispensing facilities. EPA said it will regulate them under sections 112(c)(3) and 112(d)(5) of the Clean Air Act rather than section 112(c)(6) and expects the proposed standards to cut annual hazardous air pollutant emissions by about 3,300 tons and VOC emissions by about 45,000 tons.

Comments via must be received by Jan. 8. The records required under the proposed rule, including records of cargo tank vapor tightness test certifications, records of storage tank and equipment component inspections, and records of monthly throughput, would have to be kept for five years.

The rule would require that emissions from storage tanks be reduced by 95 percent, either through the use of specified floating roofs and seals or through an alternative technology such as a closed vent system. Cargo tank loading rack emissions at bulk gasoline terminals would be reduced to a level of 80 milligrams, or less, per liter of gasoline loaded into cargo tanks. A monthly equipment leak inspection – sight, sound, and smell — at bulk terminals, bulk plants, pipeline breakout stations, and pipeline pumping stations would be required.

PHMSA Issues Second Advisory Bulletin of 2006 on Excavation Practices

PHMSA has recently issued an advisory bulletin to pipeline operators in response to recent excavation incidents in Texas, Wyoming, California, and Virginia. This comes on the heels of another Advisory Bulletin (ADB 06-01, published in the Federal Register on January 17,2006 (71 FR 2613)) issued to pipeline operators affirming the DOT’s expectations for excavation tasks to be covered under operator qualification programs. The most recent Advisory Bulletin can be viewed in its entirety by clicking here.

Within this advisory bulletin, PHMSA advises pipeline operators to take the following damage prevention measures:

  • Use safe locating excavation practices. Follow your procedures and processes for excavation and backfill. When constructing a new pipeline, honor the marking of existing pipelines.
  • Locate and mark pipelines accurately before locating excavation begins. Do not rely solely on maps, drawings, or other written materials to locate pipelines.
  • Make sure that individuals locating and marking the pipelines have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to read and understand pipeline alignment and as-built drawings, and that they know what other buried utilities exist in the construction area.
  • Make sure that individuals locating and marking the pipelines have up-to-date pipeline alignment and as-built drawings.
  • Make sure that individuals locating and marking the pipelines are familiar with state and local requirements on marking.
  • Mark all pipelines, including laterals. This is especially important in areas where there is a considerable amount of new pipeline and utility construction.
  • Consider environmental conditions such as rain and snow when selecting marking methods.
  • In areas where the pipelines are curved or make sharp bends to avoid other utilities or obstructions, consider the visibility and frequency of markers.
  • Confirm the accuracy of pipe locating before locating excavation begins. This applies when the pipeline operator conducts the excavation using its own employees, a contractor, or a third party.
  • Use qualified personnel for locating and marking pipelines. At a minimum, they should have received appropriate training such as that outlined in the National Utility Locating Contractors Association locator training standards and practices.
  • Make sure excavators have sufficient information about underground pipelines at the construction site to avoid damage to the pipeline. Facilitate communication during the construction activity.
  • Calibrate tools and equipment used for line locating and make sure they are in proper working order.
  • Individually mark pipelines located within the same trench where possible.
  • Follow the best practices on locating and marking pipelines developed by the Common Ground Alliance.
  • When pipelines are hit or almost hit during excavation, evaluate the practices and procedures in use before continuing the construction activity.
  • Operators should use the full range of safe locating excavation practices. In particular, pipeline operators should ensure the use of qualified personnel to accurately locate and mark the location of its underground pipelines.

NTSB Comments on NPRM for Low Stress Pipelines

Several comments have been submitted to PHMSA in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Protecting Unusually Sensitive Areas from Rural Onshore Hazardous Liquid Gathering Lines and Low Stress Lines. Of particular significance is the comments submitted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The NTSB has indicated that they believe the NPRM does not go far enough in several respects, including:

  • Extending the applicability of the NPRM to all low stress lines, not just those that are within a quarter mile of an Unusually Sensitive Area
  • Extending the same regulatory requirements in Part 195 to the to-be-regulated low stress pipelines
  • Extending the proposed requirements for cleaning, monitoring, and leak detection to all currently regulated pipelines, not just the proposed to-be-regulated lines
  • Extending the applicability of Part 195 regulations to gathering lines located within inlets of the Gulf of Mexico
  • Clarification of PHMSA’s role in regulating offshore gathering and low stress lines in relation to other agencies

To request a copy of the NTSB’s comments, click here

PHMSA Gas Gathering Workshops

PHMSA has published several more dates and locations for the gas gathering definition workshops. The first few workshops have been very informative and have provided an opportunity for “lively” exchanges among federal, state, and industry stakeholders. Workshop schedule and registration information can be found by clicking here.

Dec 7, 2006Port Allen Convention Center, Port Allen, LA (Baton Rouge)Louisiana Department of Natural Resources
Jan 9, 2007Finney State Office Building, 130 Market Street, Rm 3080, Wichita KansasKansas Corporation Commission

The topics to be discussed include:

  • Identify the beginning and endpoints of gathering by applying American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 80 and its supplemental definitions
  • Identify a “regulated” segment of a gathering line
  • Identify and understand which compliance activities are required for certain gathering lines
  • Apply and enforce significant dates for various compliance activities
  • Recognize, identify and define equipment and processes associated with production
  • Explain processing and treatment of gas stream constituents in gathering systems
  • Interpret and apply PHMSA enforcement policies and significant opinions

Pipeline Safety Trust Presentations Available

The Pipeline Safety Trust held a unique conference in November that provided a forum for various stakeholders to share their views on the current state of pipeline safety. Participants included members of the Pipeline Safety Trust, general public, regulatory agencies, and pipeline industry leaders. Topics discussed included land use, data management, technology, communications, damage prevention, regulatory agency roles, and public involvement in pipeline safety. To view a webcast or obtain copies of the presentations, click here.

Texas Proposed Regulation on Damage Prevention

On December 5, 2006, the Texas Railroad Commission will review a new proposed rule for pipeline damage prevention. The proposed rule will be found in new Chapter 18, entitled Underground Pipeline Damage Prevention, relating to:

  • Scope, Applicability, and General Provisions;
  • Definitions;
  • Excavator Notice to Notification Center;
  • Excavator Obligation to Avoid Damage to Underground Pipelines;
  • Operator and Excavator Obligations with Respect to Positive Response;
  • General Marking Requirements;
  • Excavator Marking Requirements;
  • Operator Marking Requirements;
  • Options for Managing an Excavation Site in the Vicinity of an Underground Pipeline;
  • Excavation within Tolerance Zone;
  • Reporting Requirements; and
  • Penalty Guidelines.

As currently drafted, the proposed new rules in Chapter 18, with some stated exceptions, would apply to all persons engaged in or preparing to engage in the movement of earth in the vicinity of an intrastate underground pipeline containing flammable, toxic, or corrosive gas, a hazardous liquid, or carbon dioxide. However, the legislation amending Texas Natural Resources Code, §117.012, and Texas Utilities Code, §121.201, specifically authorizes the Commission to exempt other entities or occupations if the Commission determines in its rulemaking process that exempting those entities or occupations from the rules is either in the public interest or not likely to cause harm to the safety and welfare of the public. The Commission gives notice that one result of this rulemaking may be the exemption of additional entities and/or activities from the new rules in Chapter 18.

Although there are some specific requirements for both excavators and pipeline operators set forth in the proposed new rules, generally the Commission attempted to avoid provisions that would either duplicate or contradict the mandates of Texas Utilities Code, Chapter 251, the Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act. There may be persons exempt from the provisions of Texas Utilities Code, Chapter 251, that would be required to comply with this chapter.

For additional information, or for a copy of the proposed rule, contact Jessica Roger.

Bill Byrd signature
W. R. (Bill) Byrd, PE
RCP Inc.