DOT Pipeline Compliance News

January 2022 Issue

In This Issue

RCP Welcomes Dewitt Burdeaux, Senior Executive Consultant

After the 27 years of trying, RCP has finally hired a Cajun whose name ends in X.  RCP is pleased to announce that Dewitt Burdeaux has joined our team. Mr. Burdeaux has over 40 years of experience in pipeline safety compliance, training and consulting. With a tenure of nearly twenty years with PHMSA, Mr. Burdeaux served as project manager or core team member for several PHMSA major rulemaking initiatives, including DIMP and Gas Gathering.

He has served in an advisory role to pipeline operating companies regarding design, construction, testing, operations, maintenance and integrity management programs for hazardous liquids, gas gathering and transmission pipeline systems.

Please join us in welcoming Dewitt to the RCP team.

Interim Final Rule: Unusually Sensitive Areas for the Great Lakes, Coastal Beaches and Certain Coastal Waters

[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.”

PHMSA 2022 Drug & Alcohol Testing Rate

[Docket No. Docket No. PHMSA-2021-0107]

PHMSA has determined the minimum random drug-testing rate for covered employees will remain at 50 percent during calendar year 2022.  Operators are reminded that drug and alcohol testing information must be submitted for contractors who are performing or are ready to perform covered functions.  For calendar year 2021 reporting, the username and password for the Drug and Alcohol Management Information System will be available in the PHMSA Portal.  The effective date of this notice is January 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022.

For a pdf copy of the notice with more detailed information, contact Jessica Foley.

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 November 2021, PHMSA issued 5 NOAs, 12 NOPVs, and 6 WLs accompanied by $1,323,347 in proposed fines. Significant proposed fines were attributed to the following code sections:

  • $6,900 – 49 CFR 195.452(h)(4)(iii)(E) – 180-day Conditions
  • $27,900 – 49 CFR 195.403(c) – Emergency Response Training
  • $46,600 – 49 CFR 195.452(b)(1) – IM Program in HCAs
  • $80,000 – 49 CFR 195.452(l)(ii) – IM Program in HCAs
  • $67,700 – 49 CFR 195.452(f) – IM Program in HCAs
  • $61,100 – 49 CFR 195. 452(b)(5) – IM Program in HCAs
  • $209,700 – 49 CFR 195.406(b) – Maximum Operating Pressure
  • $19,300 – 49 CFR 195.573(e) – Monitoring External Corrosion
  • $115,500 – 49 CFR 195.573(a)(1) – Monitoring External Corrosion
  • $40,000 – 49 CFR 195.573(c) – Monitoring External Corrosion
  • $36,200 – 49 CFR 195.52(b) – NRC Reporting
  • $218,647 – 49 CFR 195. 402(c)(11) – O&M Procedures
  • $276,400 – 49 CFR 195. 402(c)(13) – O&M Procedures
  • $61,100 – 49 CFR 195.402(a) – O&M Procedures
  • $38,000 – 49 CFR 192.805(b) – Operator Qualification Plan
  • $19,000 – 49 CFR 195.440(c) – Public Awareness

Please note:

  1. Pipeline operators may disagree in whole or in part with each proposed violation cited by PHMSA. 
  2. Proposed Civil Penalties (PCP) may be reduced or eliminated before an enforcement action becomes final.
  3. 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.
  4. A Notice of Amendment (NOA) is frequently a result of a difference of opinion regarding written procedure requirements.
  5. 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.
  6. A Notice of Probable Violation (NOPV) is not proof that a violation actually occurred.
  7. A Proposed Compliance Order (PCO) frequently documents actions the pipeline operator already planned to do.
  8. 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.

Client Feedback

RCP has a tradition of creating and sustaining trusted partnerships with the companies we serve. This has translated into long-term relationships that are based not only on the quality and scope of the work we provide, but also on the manner in which we provide it. We routinely hear from our clients with positive feedback like this quote below:

“Thanks everyone for all the help in making the training so smooth. I have received extremely positive feedback from my team regarding both the content and the format, and you gave us a lot to think about with regards to potential gaps within our programs.”

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss our services with you.


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