DOT Pipeline Compliance News

November 2011 Issue

In This Issue

Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act 2011 Senate Bill 275

On October 17, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to amend title 49, United States Code, to provide for enhanced safety and environmental protection in pipeline transportation and to provide for enhanced reliability in the transportation of the Nation’s energy products by pipeline. This legislation was initiated in response to recent pipeline incidents of gas and oil pipelines.

The Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2011 (S. 275) would require automatic or remote-controlled shut-off valves on transmission pipelines, replacement of cast iron pipelines, leak detection, more federal safety inspectors, and higher penalties for safety violations. The bill would also increase public availability of information on the pipelines – such as monthly inspection reports with all enforcement actions taken – and require that this information be made available online via PHMSA’s website. Additional highlights of the bill include:

  • Prohibits a State one-call notification program from exempting municipalities, state agencies, or their contractors from its one-call notification system requirements.
  • Regulations subjecting offshore hazardous liquid gathering pipelines, and hazardous liquid gathering pipelines located within the inlets of the Gulf of Mexico, to the same standards and regulations as other hazardous liquid gathering pipelines.
  • Regulations to require the use of excess flow valves on new or entirely replaced distribution branch services, multi-family facilities, and small commercial facilities located in high-density population areas and environmentally sensitive areas.
  • Evaluate integrity management safety system requirements in regards to:
    • whether integrity management system requirements should be expanded beyond HCAs,
    • gas pipeline facilities, whether applying the integrity management program requirements to additional areas would mitigate the need for class location requirements, with an emphasis on class 3 and 4 facilities; and,
    • whether data collected outside HCAs as part of gas transmission pipeline IMPs should be included as part of the records required to be maintained by operators.
  • Revises national pipeline mapping system requirements to require each pipeline operator to provide the Secretary certain geospatial, technical, or other related pipeline data, including design and material specifications.
  • Authorizes the Secretary to collect geospatial, technical, or other pipeline data on transportation-related oil flow lines (pipelines transporting oil off the grounds of the well across areas not owned by the producer).
  • Directs the Secretary to require gas pipeline operators to verify records for all interstate and intrastate gas transmission lines in class 3 and class 4 locations and class 1 and class 2 high consequence areas to reflect accurately the pipelines’ physical and operational characteristics and confirm their established maximum allowable operating pressures.

For a copy of Senate Bill 275, Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act 2011, contact Jessica Roger.

RCP’s Web-Based Compliance Management Systems

CP’s Compliance Management System (CMS) is an invaluable tool for managing all aspects of regulatory workflow. Some examples of how our clients are using the CMS include:

  • O&M Scheduling and Data Acquisition;
  • Cathodic Protection Inspection and Data Management;
  • One-Call Screening and Ticket Management;
  • Repair / Replacement Programs;
  • Operator Qualification Administration and Workflow Integration;
  • Leak Life Cycle Management;
  • Environmental, Health and Safety Compliance;
  • Audit Action Item Tracking; and
  • Customer Data Management.

Key Features

  • GIS integrated workflow management
  • Custom tailored e-mail notifications and reporting
  • Runs on any web-enabled device, no software to download
  • Powerful reporting and custom query functionality
  • Multiple security and user privilege settings
  • Document storage and control (ex. procedures, maps, images, and completion documentation)
  • Automatic recurrence setting for routine tasks (example: leak surveys, CP surveys, etc.)
  • Create work orders for unscheduled / unplanned activities (ex. release reporting)

To request a demonstration or to request more information, please contact Jessica Roger.

PHMSA Emergency Response Workshop

PHMSA’s December 9th Pipeline Emergency Response Forum will take place at the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, D.C. from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Co-sponsors for this event are the National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives (NAPSR) and the United States Fire Administration (USFA). The purpose of the forum is to convene a meeting of leaders in the emergency response community, the government, the pipeline industry, and the interested public to solicit professional advice that will inform the development of a strategy for improving emergency responders’ ability to prepare for and respond to pipeline emergencies.

The main forum sessions will be webcast live and online registration is available now. Registration is required whether you participate in person or by webcast – this is a free workshop. Pre-registration for the forum is available until December 2, 2011.

Meeting space will be limited and PHMSA is encouraging individuals to participate remotely. The workshop will be webcast so please consider participating online.

A block of hotel rooms has been reserved at Courtyard by Marriott Capitol Hill/Navy Yard, (866) 329-000. Contact the hotel directly for reservations.

New Mexico Public Regulation Commission Proposes Changes to State Rules on Pipeline Safety and Damage Prevention

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) has proposed to amend its existing rules regarding Pipeline Safety General Provisions and Pipeline Safety Excavation Damage Prevention that are currently codified in the New Mexico Administrative Code (NMAC).

The Staff has submitted nine (9) proposed changes to 18.60.2 and eighteen (18) proposed changes to 18.60.5 NMAC. Changes to 18.60.2 NMAC include requirement for hazardous liquid operators to make telephonic notice to the Pipeline Safety Bureau; as well as submission of annual and other reports by gas and liquid operators. There were also requirements for gathering operators to establish and follow written procedures (i.e., emergency, O&M, valve maintenance, etc.). Wording changes also addressed inclusion of procedures for emergency response to excavation damage near buildings when the possibility of multiple leaks and gas migration can occur into nearby buildings. Finally, wording on notice of intent to sell, transfer or change of ownership or operations directed at regulated gas and liquid operators stated the director (of the NMPRC) shall be notified at least 90 days prior to such transactions.

Proposed changes to 18.60.5 included further clarification of definitions as well as removal of the responsibilities of non-member underground facility owners from the Rule. In addition, wording was added encouraging locate requests for excavation projects involving, “purely non-mechanical means.” Other wording addressed changes to pre-marking and pre-excavation procedures by excavators.

Comments to the proposed amendments can be made in writing, no later than December 9, 2011. Responses to comments are due no later than January 5, 2012. Send comments to: Mr. Nick Guillen, NMPRC Records Management Bureau, 1120 Paseo de Peralta, P. O. Box 1269, Santa Fe, NM 87501. Include Case No. 11-00298-PL, Proposed Amendments to Pipeline Safety General Provisions and Excavation Damage Prevention.

For a copy of this proposed rule, contact Jessica Roger.

Damage Prevention Plans

RCP can develop or update your Damage Prevention plan. For more information about how RCP can assist you with your Damage Prevention Plan, click here.

CGA DIRT 2010 Analysis & Recommendations Released October, 2011

The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) has released the DIRT Report: Analysis & Recommendations for Calendar Year 2010, Volume VII. The Damage Information Report Tool (DIRT) Report identifies the importance of calling 811 as most critical to safety. When an excavator notifies a one call center before digging, damage occurs less than 1 percent of the time, according to the report. The report also estimates that the total number of damages could be reduced by 30 percent if all digging was preceded by a locate request.

California Pipeline Safety Laws

On October 7, 2011, California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed new pipeline safety laws that were written in response to the San Bruno incident. “We learned very important lessons from the tragic explosion in San Bruno,” Brown said. “These bills protect California’s communities by setting new standards for emergency preparedness, placing automatic shutoff valves in vulnerable areas and ensuring that gas companies pressure test transmission lines.”

Assembly Bill 56 by Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, will require utilities to pressure test all pipelines, install remote-controlled shutoff valves in high population areas, and maintain accurate records. It also requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to track money it grants for pipeline repairs to make sure it is being used properly, and prohibits utilities from using ratepayer money to pay penalties for safety violations. “This is the strongest pipeline safety law in the country,” Hill said. “California is going beyond federal standards and being a leader.”

Other Energy Bills that were signed into legislation include:

  • Senate Bill 44, Corbett, Public utilities: Gas Pipeline Emergency Response Standards: Requires the CPUC to set stricter emergency response standards for gas pipeline and distribution systems, and improves communication and coordination with emergency responders.
  • Senate Bill 216, Yee, Public utilities: Intrastate Natural Gas Pipeline Safety (Shut-off Valves): Directs the CPUC to require utilities to install remote controlled or automatic shut-off valves on gas pipelines in high-consequence areas or on pipelines that traverse an earthquake fault if the CPUC finds them necessary.
  • Senate Bill 705, Leno, Natural Gas: Service and Safety: Requires each gas corporation to develop a plan for the safe and reliable operation of its pipeline facilities, and require the CPUC to approve the initial plans by December 31, 2012.
  • Senate Bill 879, Padilla, Natural gas pipelines: Safety. Requires the gas utilities to establish a balancing account for the collection and expenditures of funds used for the maintenance and upgrade of the intrastate pipeline system. Increases the maximum penalty from $20,000 to $50,000 for any public utility that fails or neglects to comply with any order, decision, decree, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the CPUC.

For a copy of these Pipeline Safety Bills, contact Jessica Roger.

MAOP Analysis Services

RCP has developed the most comprehensive MAOP analysis model on the market. Using this model, RCP has successfully conducted MAOP analysis for dozens of complex onshore/offshore gathering, transmission, and distribution pipeline systems. The analysis can be performed as a service with the results delivered on a system-by system basis as well as detailed individual record MAOP reports that indicate the regulatory code citation or letter of interpretation that is driving the calculated MAOP value. The MAOP model can also be purchased and configured to run by your personnel using your in-house data sets. For more information, visit or contact Jessica Roger.

NAPSR Compendium of State Pipeline Safety Requirements

The National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives (the state pipeline regulators) has recently released a “Compendium of State Pipeline Safety Requirements & Initiatives Providing Increased Public Safety Levels compared to the Code of Federal Regulation” 1st Edition 2011. This document provides a state-by-state breakdown of any requirements that go above and beyond PHMSA requirements.

This compendium includes the detailed sections of the federal pipeline safety code that are exceeded by the local statutes, and highlight hundreds of instances where individual state actions have been taken to improve pipeline safety. Additionally, it shows instances where the state has identified a particular provision as necessary to address a specific situation in the state. This could include, but not be limited to, a history of specific risky practices, a particular problem, or incidents that prompted the initiation of rulemaking, law amendment or issuance of Commission orders; the state’s landscape or geography that has prompted specialized rules; a material defect that perhaps affected a given population of pipelines giving rise to orders for more frequent monitoring or replacement; and/or a greater demand or tolerance by the public in that state for more stringent rules to enhance safety.

The Compendium of State Pipeline Safety can be downloaded from the NAPSR website.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program

The DOT FY2012 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program was released to the public on October 11, 2011, with proposal submission deadline of December 12. PHMSA’s Pipeline Safety Research Program has 3 topics (pages 27-30):

  • Focus area 1 12.1-PH1 Seal Sensor Network for Point-of-Source Leak Detection
  • Focus area 2 12.1-PH2 Pipeline Systems with Integrated Health Monitoring
  • Focus area 3 12.1-PH3 Study, Develop and Demonstrate a Multi-channel Insert

The solicitation can also be reviewed at:

Underwater Inspection Procedures & Inspection Interval Risk Model Updates

Now that Hurricane season is almost over, this is a reminder to those that have UIP and IIRM plans that you may want to review them soon.

RCP’s latest Inspection Interval Risk Model (IIRM) has been improved to include additional inspection trigger results for hazardous liquid pipelines that cross navigable waterways within Inlets of the Gulf of Mexico. We’ve also created an optional module that will incorporate risk-based evaluation for deeper water pipelines in addition to the shallow water pipelines already included in the IIRM. Several improvements have been incorporated in the Underwater Inspection Procedure based upon suggestions from PHMSA, other affected operators, and survey vendors.

For more information on RCP’s Underwater Inspection Program or Interval Risk Model, contact Jessica Roger.

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