DOT Pipeline Compliance News

October 2002 Issue

In This Issue

Misc. Recommendations To Change Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Standards

RSPA is proposing to change some of the safety standards for hazardous liquid and carbon dioxide pipelines. The changes are based on recommendations by the National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives (NAPSR). The changes will improve the clarity and effectiveness of the present standards, such as:

  1. Specify a 6 month re-qualification requirement for welders;
  2. Specify that backfill material cannot cause damage to the pipe and coating;
  3. Require recordkeeping of temperature during a pressure test;
  4. Clarify firefighting training requirements; and
  5. Specify that the phone number on pump station and breakout tank signs must be answered 24 hours a day.

Persons interested in submitting written comments on the rules proposed in this notice must do so by November 5, 2002 (docket No. RSPA-97-2717). Late filed comments will be considered so far as practicable.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: L. M. Furrow by phone at 202-366-4559, by fax at 202-366-4566, by mail at U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, DC, 20590, or by e-mail at The complete proposed rule is available on RCP’s website here.

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Advisory Bulletin RE: Updated Notifications to National Response Center

The Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) has issued an advisory to owners and operators of gas distribution, gas transmission, and hazardous liquid pipeline systems, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities. Owners and operators should ensure that telephonic reports of incidents to the National Response Center (NRC) are both prompt and accurate and fully communicate the estimated extent of the damages. Additional reports should be made if there is a significant change in an estimate of the size of the gas or liquid release, the extent of the damage, or the number of deaths or injuries.

OPS considers a significant change to include any of the following:

  1. An increase or decrease in the number of previously reported injuries or fatalities;
  2. A revised estimate of the product release amount that is at least 10 times greater than the amount reported; for example, the initial reported amount of product released was 300 barrels and the revised estimated amount is 3,000 barrels;
  3. A revised estimate of the property damage that is at least 10 times greater than the reported property damage estimate; for example, the initial reported amount of damage was 100,000 dollars and the revised estimate is 1,000,000 dollars.

Some hazardous liquid operators do not provide an estimated product release amount when reporting an incident to the NRC. OPS recognizes the difficulty in estimating spill amounts, especially if the release is underground or into water. However, OPS’s and NTSB’s response to the incident may depend on the reported spill size. OPS and NTSB may not investigate a ten barrel spill and may perform an onsite investigation of a 20,000 barrel spill. To get this critical information, OPS is asking the NRC to request operators to provide an estimate of the spill amount. If an estimated amount is not provided, NRC assumes, for emergency notification and response purposes, that a major spill has occurred. Therefore, if the operator does not provide a spill estimate, NRC will enter a default spill estimate of 1,000 barrels. OPS will be notified of all spills over 500 barrels and any spill over 100 barrels that impacts water.

The complete advisory bulletin is available on RCP’s website here.

Editor’s note: Since the NRC spill database is a public record, pipeline operators would be well advised to ensure they provide a spill volume estimate to NRC every time they call. Otherwise, the public record will show a significant spill to have occured.

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Advisory Bulletin: Safety of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Distribution Systems

On September 5, 2002, the RSPA issued an advisory bulletin concerning the safety of LPG distribution systems. On September 1, 2002 a propane gas explosion leveled a house in Snow Hill, MD. An employee of the local gas distribution company was killed and 17 emergency responders and others were injured, four critically. The accident is under investigation by the Maryland Public Service Commission. Initial observations indicate that the propane gas explosion occurred as the basement was being mechanically ventilated. The propane gas may have leaked into the house from a corroded service line. Prompt and effective response is required when gas is detected in or near a building. All actions should be directed to protecting people through a prompt evacuation of the affected buildings and securing the area.

RSPA and its state pipeline safety program partners have recently issued a manual to assist LPG pipeline operators in safely operating their systems and effectively responding to emergencies. The Training Guide for Operators of Small LP Gas Systems, which was prepared for RSPA by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, includes information on LPG pipeline system operations and maintenance and on preparing the required emergency response manual. Chapter X addresses gas leakage control guidelines for LPG systems. It includes guidelines for the detection, grading, and control of gas leakage for systems handling LPG and other heavier-than-air gas mixtures.

Another excellent source of information on complying with the gas pipeline safety regulations is the Guide for Gas Transmission and Distribution Piping Systems© NSI GPTC Z380.1-1998), which is published by the Gas Piping Technology Committee. The document provides useful detail on written emergency procedures, including making the area safe through evacuation, access control, elimination of sources of ignition, ventilation, and coordination with emergency responders. It also addresses procedures for establishing liaison and emergency planning with public officials.

II. Advisory Bulletin (ADB-02-05)

To: Owners and Operators of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Distribution Systems.

Subject: Safety of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Distribution Systems

Purpose: To advise owners and operators of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) distribution systems

Advisory: Owners and operators of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) distribution systems should review their compliance with all leak detection, corrosion monitoring, and emergency response procedures, including training of emergency response personnel and liaison with other agencies.

LPG system operators should ensure that their procedures are adequate to detect leaks of heavier-than-air gas. LPG leaks do not dissipate as readily as does the natural gas, which is lighter than air and tends to rise through the soil. Leak detection may also be complicated by extremely wet or frozen soils that effectively cap an area of leaking gas and cause gas that had been venting through the soil into the air to be redirected along underground utility lines or through loosely compacted soils into structures, especially basements. Both these conditions require a leak detection procedure that emphasizes measurement of gas below the surface of the soil or pavement. Usually this is accomplished by “bar holing” and examination of below ground areas, such as manholes, storm drains, and basements.

In addition, the gas pipeline safety regulations require an operator to establish and follow written procedures for responding to LPG pipeline emergencies (49 CFR 192.615). This includes establishment of communications systems between utilities, and appropriate fire, police, and other public officials. The regulations also require an operator to establish a continuing educational program to enable customers, the public, and appropriate government organizations to recognize a gas pipeline emergency and to take action to notify the gas operator and local emergency responders (49 CFR 192.616).

Prompt and effective response is required when gas is detected in or near a building. All actions should be directed to protecting people first through a prompt evacuation of the buildings, followed by establishing access control, elimination of sources of ignition, ventilation, and coordination with emergency responders.

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Revised SPCC Requirements and RCP SPCC Workshops

RCP has scheduled several 1-day workshops on the EPA’s revised Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures Plan regulations (published July 17th, 2002, effective August 16th, 2002). If your facility stores more than 55 gallons of oil in a single container, these revisions could affect you! Click here to view a list of locations and find out how to register.

The final rule:

  • Expands the scope of the rule to conform with the expanded jurisdiction in the amended Clean Water Act
  • Includes new subparts for various classes of oil
  • Revises to applicability of the regulation
  • Amends several requirements for completing SPCC Plans
  • Clarifies storage threshold quantity factors
  • Revises several definitions
  • Revised the discharge reporting thresholds and reporting requirements
  • Revised the review period frequency for SPCC Plans
  • Adds new integrity testing and new equipment design requirements
  • Revised employee training requirements.

RCP has prepared a document that highlights the changes from the previous version of the rule. There are 8 definitions from the original rule that were unchanged. Other than that, EVERY PARAGRAPH was changed in some way. If you would like to receive a copy of the document, please request one via email to

Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Operator Annual Report Form NPRM: extension of comment period

RSPA has extended the period for public comment from September 24, 2002, to November 22, 2002, on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published in the Federal Register on July 26, 2002, requiring an annual report for hazardous liquid pipeline operators (proposed form RSPA F7000-1.1). (See our August, 2002 newsletter here.)

On July 26, 2002, the Research and Special Programs Administration’s Office of Pipeline Safety (RSPA/OPS) issued a NPRM (67 FR 48844) to require hazardous liquid pipeline operators to submit an annual report (proposed form RSPA F7000-1.1). The report form asks for information that RSPA/OPS does not currently collect, such as: breakout tank location and capacity; hazardous liquid pipeline mileage by State, diameter and decade installed. The report will be due March 15 of each year for the previous calendar year, aligning with the annual reporting schedule for natural gas pipeline operators. RSPA/OPS will use information from the report to more effectively compile national statistics on system inventory; analyze accidents; identify safety problems and potential solutions; and target inspections. The proposed form asks for information similar to information RSPA/OPS currently collects for natural gas pipelines. The proposed information collection is part of RSPA’s/OPS’s overall strategy for improving the quality of pipeline statistics and addresses a longstanding data gap in hazardous liquid pipeline inventory information.

On August 23, 2002, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Association of Oil Pipelines (AOPL) submitted a request on behalf of their pipeline members for a 60 day extension of the comment period. API and AOPL indicated that additional time would enable operators to better understand the type of data to be collected on the proposed hazardous liquid pipeline annual report and to determine whether operators are now collecting information that would meet the needs of OPS. Because most of the API and AOPL membership is affected by this rulemaking, and because an annual report has never been required of hazardous liquid pipeline operators, RSPA/OPS is extending the deadline for comments on this NPRM. Pursuant to 49 CFR 190.319, good cause has been shown by the petitioners for extension of the comment period, namely, API and AOPL. Extension of the comment period is consistent with the public interest and is granted to all persons.

Small Liquid Pipeline Integrity Management Deadlines

Just a reminder for those Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Operators with less than 500 miles of pipelines. The initial compliance deadline for identifying segments that could effect HCA’s is only about 6 weeks away (November 18, 2002). The deadline to have the final written plan in place is February 18, 2003. OPS has given a lot of scrutiny to the “segment identification process” in the large liquid pipeline audits. If you have not started on this work or even thought about it, the time to start is yesterday. You will need to combine your pipline location information and operating parameters with appropriate spill/leak analytical tools and experience to determine which, if any, HCA’s in the vicinity of your pipelines could be effected by a leak/spill from your pipeline. Of course, we’d be glad to do that for you if needed….

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RSPA Results Newsletter

We have posted the latest edition of the Research and Special Program Administration’s (RSPA’s) newsletter RSPA Results here. It contains information about all of RSPA’s programs, including those in the Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS). Of special interest is the article on OPS enforcement activities and productivity targets.

Drug and Alcohol Management Information System Reporting Notice of proposed rulemaking

The Department of Transportation’s Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) proposes to revise the Management Information System (MIS) forms currently used within six U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) operating administrations (OA) for submission of annual drug and alcohol program data. These OAs are: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA); Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); Federal Transit Administration (FTA); Federal Railroad Administration (FRA); Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA); and the United States Coast Guard (USCG). The Department proposes to streamline the annual reporting of drug and alcohol program data to OAs through use of a one-page MIS data collection form. The Department desires to standardize across the OAs the information collected and to reduce the amount of data reported by transportation employers. If an OA intends to require supplemental data, the OA will address those issues separately. The Docket Office must receive comments by November 14, 2002 (Docket OST-2002-13435).

Six OAs collect drug and alcohol program data from their regulated employers on an annual basis. Employers compile this data on MIS forms and each form is OA specific. In fact, more than twelve MIS data collection forms currently exist within the OAs. The Department believes that data collection and entry will be greatly simplified for transportation employers and the Department if a single form is utilized throughout the transportation industries and the OAs.

All drug and alcohol testing conducted under DOT authority uses a standard form for drug testing-Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form-and a standard form for alcohol testing-DOT Alcohol Testing Form. In essence, use of standard testing forms should limit MIS reporting to a finite number of data elements. Therefore, a core set of data elements will make up the new MIS form-a ONE-DOT MIS form-which all transportation employers will complete, as appropriate, for their company and the OA regulating them.

This MIS form will simplify and streamline data recording for transportation employers and will require employers to enter less data. In addition, because the proposed form contains fewer data elements and is on a one-page format, it can be more easily entered and processed via electronically based systems. As an added benefit, there will be a single set of MIS instructions for all transportation employers, regardless of OA.

However, not every OA expects information for all potential data elements (e.g., RSPA does not conduct random alcohol testing), and some data elements may be collected through some means other than MIS (e.g., USCG receives alcohol data immediately following each post-accident testing event). The form’s instructions will highlight some of those peculiar testing differences, and companies not required to conduct or report certain types of tests will simply leave those sections blank. For instance, because USCG wants no alcohol testing data on the MIS form, USCG-regulated employers will leave blank Section IV of the form. In addition, when no testing was done or no results were received for particular data elements, employers will leave those items blank rather than inserting zeros (as is now required).

The ODAPC and the OAs propose to revise the MIS reporting requirements to standardize the collection of data for the OAs. The proposed rulemaking would impose a few new requirements for data collection; specifically, data related to information associated with the revised Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form developed by the Department of Health and Human Services (65 FR 39155, June 23, 2000). However, the overall amount of required data will be less than that required currently. The Department also intends to place the MIS form and instructions for completing it into Part 40, and remove the forms and instructions from all OA regulations.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim L. Swart, Drug and Alcohol Policy Advisor at 202-366-3784 (voice) 202-366-3897 (fax) or at: (e-mail).

Texas Proposed Rule for Public Liaison and Public Awareness

The State of Texas has proposed new regulations concerning community liaison and public awareness for gas and liquid pipelines. Each operator of a gas or liquid pipeline or pipeline facilities or the operator’s designated representative would be required to communicate and conduct liaison activities with fire, police, and other appropriate public emergency response officials in person except as provided elsewhere in the rules. If a personal meeting is not possible, a conference call should be arranged. If a conference call isn’t possible, the appropriate information should be mailed to the appropriate officials. In addition, the owner or operator of each interstate or intrastate hazardous liquid or carbon dioxide pipeline or pipeline facility any part of which is located within 1,000 feet of a public school would be required to develop an emergency response plan in consultation with the fire department in whose jurisdiction the school is located or with another local emergency response entity; and present the plan at the first annual budget meeting of the board of trustees of the school district in which the school is located after the plan is developed, with subsequent annual presentations as requested by the board.

Comments on the proposal may be submitted to Rules Coordinator, Office of General Counsel, Railroad Commission of Texas, P.O. Box 12967, Austin, Texas 78711-2967; online at; or by electronic mail to The Commission will accept comments for 30 days after publication in the Texas Register and should refer to Gas Utilities Docket No. 9330. For further information, call Mary McDaniel at (512) 463-7058. The status of Commission rulemakings in progress is available at The complete notice is available on RCP’s website here.

Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs; Procedures for Non-Evidential Alcohol Screening Devices

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines which non-evidential alcohol screening devices (ASDs) are suitable for use within DOT regulated industry testing programs. NHTSA has approved an ASD device that operates differently from other ASDs, and the DOT had no Part 40 procedures for its use. This final rule establishes procedures for the use of this device. This rule is effective October 31, 2002 [see, Docket OST-2002-13431] .

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim L. Swart, Drug and Alcohol Policy Advisor at 202-366-3784 (voice), 202-366-3897 (fax), or at:

Natural Resource Damage Assessments – Final rule

In the event of a discharge or substantial threat of a discharge of oil (incident), the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), 33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq., provides that Federal, State, Indian tribal, and/or foreign natural resource trustees (trustees) assess natural resource damages and develop and implement a plan for the restoration, rehabilitation, replacement, or acquisition of the equivalent of the injured natural resources and their services. Congress directed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to promulgate regulations for the assessment of natural resource damages resulting from an incident (OPA section 1006(e)(1)). NOAA promulgated final regulations on January 5, 1996 (see 61 FR 440), codified at 15 CFR part 990.

Under these OPA regulations, trustees conduct natural resource damage assessments in the open, with responsible parties and the public involved in the planning process to achieve restoration more quickly, decrease transaction costs, and avoid litigation. These restoration plans form the basis of claims for natural resource damages. Under the natural resource damage assessment regulation, trustees then present a demand comprised of the final restoration plan to responsible parties for funding or implementation, plus assessment costs. These final regulations were challenged pursuant to section 1017(a) of OPA. On November 18, 1997, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a ruling on the final regulations (General Electric Co., et al., v. Commerce, 128 F.3d 767 (D.C. Cir 1997)). The Court remanded to NOAA for further agency decisionmaking: (1) authorization for the removal of residual oil, and (2) the scope of authorization for recovery of legal costs. NOAA also proposed clarifying and technical amendments in other parts of the regulations. On July 31, 2001, NOAA published proposed amendments to the final regulations to address the remanded issues and to propose some clarifying and technical amendments in other parts of the regulation. This final rule [67 FR 61483, Docket No. 990608154-2213-02, RIN 0648-AM80], addresses the remanded issues and comments received.

This final rule is effective October 31, 2002.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eli Reinharz, 301-713-3038, ext. 193 (FAX: 301-713-4387; e-mail: or Linda Burlington, 301-713-1332 (FAX: 301-713-1229; e-mail:

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