DOT Pipeline Compliance News

May 2022 Issue

In This Issue

PHMSA Incident & Annual Reports – Proposed Changes

[Docket No. PHMSA-2021-0054]

PHMSA is proposing several changes to the following annual and incident / accident reporting forms:

Hazardous Liquid and Carbon Dioxide Pipeline Systems

  • PHMSA F 7000–1 Accident Report
  • PHMSA F 7000–1.1 Annual Report

Gas Distribution Systems

  • PHMSA F 7100.1 Incident Report
  • PHMSA F 7100.1–1 Annual Report

Gas Transmission and Gathering Systems

  • PHMSA F 7100.2 Incident Report
  • PHMSA F 7100.2–1 Annual Report

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Facilities

  • PHMSA F 7100.3 Incident Report

Many of these changes align the PHMSA reports with the Common Ground Alliance DIRT report concerning excavation damage prevention.  These portions now mirror the CGA DIRT questionnaire more closely and are mandatory if any sub-cause for Excavation Damage is selected, not just third party.  Also, please remember that if answering the Excavation Damages section and also reporting to CGA DIRT, to select “No” in question 2 to avoid duplication of information submitted to CGA.

There is a new question about the local time of Confirmed Discovery.  Confirmed Discovery refers to items which “can be reasonably determined, based on information available to the operator at the time a reportable event has occurred, even if based solely on a preliminary evaluation.”

Comments on these proposals were due on or before May 10, 2022.

For a copy of PHMSA’s notice of proposed changes, all Really Cool People can contact Jessica Foley.

New York OQ Program Updates and Atmospheric Corrosion Monitoring Regulation

The New York State Department of Public Service has new regulations for its atmospheric corrosion control monitoring requirements. Operators are now required to conduct inspections of service lines for atmospheric corrosion every five years instead of every three years.

The Department also issued updated Operator Qualification (OQ) regulations. The OQ regulation changes include new definitions for Evaluator and Span of Control, and modified definitions for Covered Task and Qualified. The regulation for requesting Waivers to an OQ requirement has been deleted and replaced with a new regulation for Special Permits.

OQ program must reflect the operator’s actual operations (generic programs are not acceptable). The OQ program must document the training, the knowledge to be transferred and the skills to be demonstrated as part of the qualification process, in addition to the competencies of the evaluator. The training content must include Mutual Aid and the evaluation of risk for those engineering changes that increase risk. Operators must develop a Management of Change process to evaluate changes made in procedures, specifications, tools, materials of construction, and technology that would impact covered tasks.

New requirements for qualification include a secure testing environment, automatic no-pass criteria for incorrect responses to questions about Abnormal Operating Conditions, and a 48-hour waiting period between training and testing.  Written tests and performance observations are required. Records of the evaluation process must be collected and maintained for as long as the individual is responsible for the covered task role and then for five more years.

OQ programs must include OQ program performance effectiveness metrics and a review of those metrics at least once every two years. The regulation contains the minimum list of metrics, primarily documenting the causes of occurrences when a covered task performance is inadequate. The metrics cover categories ranging from inadequate training materials, delivery, and the qualification process, to not following procedure. The metrics also include an evaluation of whether the Span of Control was inadequate or not followed.

If you have questions or need assistance in your Operator Qualification Program, please contact Jessica Foley. The compliance date for the new OQ programs is April 1, 2023.

National Academy of Sciences – Valves Study

The National Academy of Sciences held a meeting on April 26 and 27, 2022, related to the required study from the 2020 PIPES Act regarding Remove Operated Valves, Automatic Shutdown Valves, and Emergency Flow Restricting Devices (ROV/ASV/EFRD).  This was the third meeting of the group.  Their report should be delivered to the three congressional committees with pipeline safety oversight by Dec 27, 2022, and will be used to determine the need/possibility of adding to the recently published Valve/Rupture detection rule.

Their charge is stated as follows:

The study will examine current federal regulatory requirements governing decisions about where and when to install these devices on existing pipelines, including regulatory criteria on factors to be considered and methodologies to be used for making such decisions. Consideration will be given to the treatment of public safety and environmental risks by these methodologies and the treatment of economic, technical, and operational feasibility. The study will identify and assess other potential methodologies for making such installation decisions on existing pipelines. In doing so, the committee will consider ASV, RCV, and EFRD technological capabilities;  statutory and procedural limits on federal regulatory authority to require their use; relevant recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board; and current and proposed regulatory criteria for the installation of ASVs, RCVs, and EFRDs on newly constructed and fully replaced pipelines. The study will take into account issues associated with reliance on manual control valves, including human factors and accessibility concerns. As appropriate, recommendations will be made regarding regulatory or statutory changes that might be considered at the federal and state levels.

The meeting agenda and other reference materials are available at this link.

Did you know?

Safety is paramount to the Natural Gas industry, and guides everything we do. Members of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) have made great strides through our widely recognized safety initiative – the “Integrity Management – Continuous Improvement” (IMCI) program. IMCI has provided a foundation for the past decade for members to safely support the energy transition as we evolve to a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy, and in January INGAA announced updates in IMCI 2.0. This update is comprised of a series of initiatives to bolster our industry’s safety efforts and continue working toward our goal of zero pipeline incidents. Learn more from this INGAA fact sheet.

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 March 2022, PHMSA issued 14 WLs, 11 NOAs, and 7 NOPVs accompanied by $135,300 in proposed fines. Significant proposed fines were attributed to the following code sections:

  • $22,800 – 49 CFR 195.446(c)(3) – Control Room Management
  • $31,100 – 49 CFR 195.446(e)(3) – Control Room Alarm Management
  • $19,300 – 49 CFR 195.403(c) – Emergency Response Training
  • $15,500 – 49 CFR 195.406(a)(5) – Maximum Operating Pressure
  • $46,600 – 49 CFR 195.452(l)(3) – IM Program: Leak Detection

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:

Thank You for your assistance with the transition, audit support and data mining efforts. I truly appreciate all that your staff has done for us . . . The wealth of knowledge that you possess and the ability to communicate at all levels are priceless. . .RCP as a whole has helped us tremendously and the high-level of expertise and unwavering professionalism speaks volumes of the foundation upon which RCP is deeply rooted.” – Moda Midstream

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


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