DOT Pipeline Compliance News

September 2003 Issue

In This Issue

ASME B31-Q Meeting Update

The Southern Gas Association (SGA) has posted an update on their website concerning the first meeting of the ASME B31-Q Committee. This committee is tasked with developing a technical standard concerning qualification of pipeline personnel. The resulting standard is expected to apply universally to all pipelines (not just those in the US). The pipeline industry anticipates that the Office of Pipeline Safety will adopt the standard into their regulations, once it is developed. For more information, check out the following link on SGA’s website:;=121.

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Producer-Operated OCS Pipelines That Cross Directly Into State Waters

This final rule addresses the safety regulation responsibility for producer-operated natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines that cross into State waters without first connecting to a transporting operator’s facility on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). This rule specifies the procedures by which producer operators can petition for approval to operate under safety regulations governing pipeline design, construction, operation, and maintenance issued by either the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) or the Department of the Interior (DOI), Minerals Management Service (MMS). This rule is effective September 4, 2003.

Producer-operated pipeline facilities upstream (generally seaward) of the last valve on the last production facility on the OCS are regulated under MMS regulations. However, regardless of the direction of flow, producer pipelines that cross the Federal/State boundary are always subject to RSPA regulation on the portions of the lines located in State waters. However, it does not make operational sense to have a pipeline segment crossing the Federal/State boundary subject to MMS regulations on the OCS side of the boundary and RSPA regulations on the State side of the boundary. Therefore, producer pipeline operators may petition RSPA/OPS under 49 CFR 190.0 for approval to operate under RSPA/OPS regulations governing pipeline design, construction, operation, and maintenance. In considering such petitions, RSPA/OPS will consult with MMS and affected parties.

Safety equipment protecting RSPA regulated pipeline segments are not excluded from RSPA / OPS regulation. RSPA/OPS will continue to inspect all upstream safety equipment (including valves, overpressure protective devices, cathodic protection equipment, and pigging devices) that protect the integrity of the RSPA/OPS-regulated pipeline segments.

You may contact L.E. Herrick by telephone at (202) 366-5523, by fax at (202) 366 4566, by mail at U.S. Department of Transportation, RSPA, DPS-10, Room 7128, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590, or via e-mail to regarding the subject matter of this notice.

The complete Federal Register notice is available at RCP’s website here through the DOT Gateway.

Notice of workshops on industry consensus standard API RP 1162, “Public Awareness Programs for Pipeline Operators”

Editor’s note: due to the importance of the subject matter, and the fact that it impacts virtually every pipeline operator, I have reproduced the majority of the Federal Register notice concerning these meetings in the following article.

The Research and Special Programs Administration’s (RSPA) Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) and the National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives (NAPSR) will co-sponsor two workshops with the pipeline industry trade associations (API, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, Association of Oil Pipelines, American Gas Association, and American Public Gas Association) to introduce and discuss industry consensus standard API Recommended Practice (RP) 1162, “Public Awareness Programs for Pipeline Operators.” These workshops will also serve to introduce and discuss the statutory requirement that pipeline operators complete self-assessments of their public education programs no later than December 17, 2003. The first workshop will be held on September 4-5, 2003 at the Westin Galleria, 5060 West Alabama, Houston, TX 77056, (713) 960-8100. The second workshop will be held on September 16-17, 2003, at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore, 300 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21202, (410) 528-1234. Operators of hazardous liquid and natural gas transmission pipelines, natural gas local distribution systems and oil and gas gathering systems are urged to attend. To facilitate meeting planning, advance registration for these meetings is strongly encouraged and can be accomplished online at the following Web site: The deadline for registration at both meetings is August 22, 2003. Members of the public are welcome to attend these workshops. Members of the public who are unable to attend in person can view the meeting over the Internet through the RSPA/OPS Web site:

The existing pipeline safety regulations at 49 CFR parts 192 and 195 require operators of natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines to establish continuing education programs to enable customers, the public, appropriate government organizations, and persons engaged in excavation related activities to recognize a pipeline emergency for the purpose of reporting it to the operator or the appropriate public officials. The regulations also require that operators carry out written programs to prevent pipeline damage from excavation activities. Accordingly, pipeline operators have previously conducted public awareness programs with the affected public, emergency responders, and excavators along their routes.

The Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002 (PSIA) requires that each owner or operator of a natural gas or hazardous liquid pipeline facility must carry out a continuing program to educate the public on the use of a one-call notification system prior to excavation and other damage prevention activities, the possible hazards associated with unintended releases from the pipeline facility, the physical indications that such a release may have occurred, what steps should be taken for public safety in the event of a pipeline release, and how to report such an event.

The PSIA requires that by December 17, 2003, each owner or operator of a gas or hazardous liquid pipeline facility must review its existing public education program for effectiveness and modify the program as necessary. The completed program must include activities to advise affected municipalities, school districts, businesses, and residents of pipeline facility locations. The completed program must be submitted to the Secretary of Transportation or, in the case of an intrastate pipeline facility operator, the appropriate State agency, and shall be periodically reviewed by the Secretary or, in the case of an intrastate pipeline facility operator, the appropriate State agency.

The PSIA also provides that the Secretary of Transportation may issue standards prescribing the elements of an effective public education program. The Secretary may also develop material for use in the program.

In anticipation of this requirement and in response to recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), RSPA/OPS has encouraged the pipeline industry to work on improving public education programs. The pipeline industry formed a Task Force with representatives from natural gas and liquid petroleum transmission companies, local distribution companies, gathering systems, and industry trade associations. The Task Force has developed a consensus standard establishing guidelines for pipeline operators on development, implementation, and evaluation of public education programs for operating pipeline systems, American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 1162, “Public Awareness Programs for Pipeline Operators.” The Task Force sought feedback from local public officials, the public and interested parties. Representatives from RSPA/OPS and NAPSR observed and provided input into the development of the standard. On January 29, 2003, RSPA/OPS hosted a public meeting on this standard in Bellevue, Washington, to encourage additional public participation.

RP 1162 was developed under the guidelines of both API and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Following formal adoption, RP 1162 is expected to be published as a national consensus standard in September 2003.

The level of public education and awareness regarding operating pipelines and pipeline safety can only be increased through demonstrably effective education and communication programs. Therefore, RSPA/OPS is considering incorporating RP 1162 into the pipeline safety regulations.

RSPA/OPS has evaluated the PSIA requirements that operators review and modify their public education programs and submit their completed programs to RSPA/OPS. RP 1162 contains guidance on program effectiveness that amply satisfies the statutory requirement. RSPA/OPS and pipeline industry trade associations encourage pipeline operators to complete a formal self-assessment of their public education programs against the guidelines provided in RP 1162. To assist them in this, RSPA/OPS is developing an Internet-based self-assessment that operators can complete electronically. These self-assessments will help operators identify gaps in their public education programs and the improvements needed to align it with the guidance of RP 1162. This will assist operators in meeting the statutory requirement by December 17, 2003.

RSPA/OPS will co-sponsor two workshops with the pipeline industry trade associations (API, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, Association of Oil Pipelines, American Gas Association, and American Public Gas Association,) to facilitate these operator self-assessments. Each workshop will provide an industry-facilitated review of RP 1162 and a panel discussion of successful public education practices. RSPA/OPS will describe the self-assessment process and will facilitate sessions on effective program evaluation techniques. RSPA/OPS will conduct breakout sessions during these workshops for the hazardous liquid and natural gas transmission pipeline operators. The breakout sessions will provide a more in-depth overview of the self-assessment process and attempt to gauge the current status of public education programs for the transmission pipeline operators by completion of informal self-assessments in advance of the formal self-assessment required by December 17, 2003. All hazardous liquid and natural gas transmission pipeline operators are urged to attend the breakout sessions. It is important that the attending representative be familiar with the operating systems that are covered under the operator’s public education program.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Wiese (tel: 202-366-4595; e-mail: You can read comments and other material in the docket on the Internet at:

Shameless commerce statement: We are currently working with several operators on their public education program enhancements / evaluation, and would be glad to assist your organization as well. Please contact Dan Shelledy at for more information.

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Revision of the Emergency Response Guidebook: Notice of regulatory review; request for comments

The Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) is soliciting comments on the development of the Emergency Response Guidebook 2004 (ERG2004), particularly from those who have experience using the 2000 Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG2000) during hazardous materials incidents. The ERG2004 will supersede ERG2000. The development of ERG2004 is a joint effort involving the transportation agencies of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. RSPA developed the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) for use by emergency services personnel to provide guidance for initial response to hazardous materials incidents. Since 1980, it has been RSPA’s goal for all public emergency response vehicles, including fire fighting, police, and rescue squad vehicles, to carry a copy of the ERG. To accomplish this, RSPA has published seven editions of the ERG and have distributed over seven million copies to emergency services agencies, without charge.

Comments are solicited on Emergency Response Guidebook user concerns and on the following questions:

  1. Have emergency responders experienced a problem of inconsistent guidance between ERG2000 and other sources of technical information? If so, in what way could ERG2004 be revised to reduce inconsistencies?
  2. Have emergency responders experienced confusion or difficulty in understanding the scope or purpose of ERG2000? If so, in what way could ERG2004 be revised to reduce this difficulty?
  3. Have emergency responders experienced confusion or difficulty in understanding the application of EGR2000? If so, in what way could ERG2004 be revised to reduce this difficulty?
  4. How could the “Table of Initial Isolation and Protective Action Distances” or its introduction be made easier to comprehend and use?
  5. In the “Table of Initial Isolation and Protective Action Distances,” does the distinction between day and night protective action distances add useful information for the first responder? How could the distinction be improved?
  6. Initial isolation and protective action distances were developed based on accident histories. Modeling for worst-case scenarios in the event of terrorism or sabotage indicates it may be appropriate to apply a factor of 1.5 or 2.0 to the values in the guidebook in those instances. What is the best way and format to alert the user to the need to consider increasing protective action distances when terrorism or sabotage is suspected? Should short, cautionary language to that effect be added to the guidebook?
  7. Could the “List of Dangerous Water-Reactive Material” introduced in NAERG96 be enhanced or improved?
  8. Have emergency responders experienced difficulty understanding the capabilities of chemical protective clothing, and the limitations of structural fire fighter’s protective clothing in hazardous materials incidents? If so, in what way can ERG2004 be revised to improve understanding?
  9. Have any identification numbers (ID No.) been incorrectly assigned to a material (Name or Material)?
  10. Has any identification number/material been assigned to the “wrong” guide? If so, please identify the material and the guide.
  11. Are the responses on each guide appropriate for the material assigned to the guide?
  12. Have emergency responders experienced difficulty with legibility of ERG2000’s print style, format, or durability?
  13. Have emergency response agencies experienced difficulty in obtaining copies of ERG2000 for their vehicles?
  14. Besides the Table of Placards, Rail Car Identification Chart, and Road Trailer Identification Chart, should other pictorial information be included?
  15. Are the Table of Placards, Rail Car Identification Chart, and Road Trailer Identification Chart accurate and useful?
  16. Are the terms listed in the Glossary defined satisfactorily?
  17. Should additional terms be added to the Glossary?
  18. How can this guidebook be enhanced to assist responders in responding to incidents of intentional release of chemical, radiological, nuclear, or biological agents?

Supporting data and analyses will enhance the value of comments submitted. Comments must be received on or before September 30, 2003 [Docket No. RSPA-03-14793; Notice No. 03-10]. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jerre Thomas, Research and Special Programs Administration (DHM-50), 400 Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001, phone number: (202) 366-4900. Internet e-mail to

RCP’s Fantastic 1-Page Version of New SPCC Regulation

The deadline for SPCC Plan revisions is fast approaching, February 17, 2006! RCP has developed a 1-page version (in tiny type) of the new SPCC regulations, to be revised as per the April 17, 2003 rule modification. To receive a complimentary copy along with a CD of valuable SPCC Reference Materials Click Here to request additional information.

Electronic Transmission and Storage of Drug Testing Information Federal Advisory Committee: Notice of Federal Advisory Committee meeting

The Department of Transportation (DOT) Electronic Transmission and Storage of Drug Testing Information Federal Advisory Committee will meet for the third time in a public session on September 22-23, 2003, at the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel, 1401 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA 22209, (703) 524-6400, Guest Fax: (703) 524-8964. The purpose of the Committee is to recommend to the Department the type and level of electronic security that should be used for the transmission and storage of drug testing information, to assess the type of format and methodology that would be appropriate, and to recommend the level and type of electronic signature technology that would support the procedures used in the DOT drug and alcohol program. The Committee has held two previous meetings. A list of the committee members and a copy of both meeting’s transcripts are available in the docket posted on the Internet at; the docket number is 12148. The meeting will be open to the public on a first-come first-seated basis.

Tentative agenda: Monday, September 22, 2003, 08:30 a.m.-12 p.m.: General presentations by the sub-committee chairpersons, 12 p.m.-1:15 p.m.: Lunch, 1:15 p.m.-3:30 p.m.-Continued presentations, 3:30 p.m.-5 p.m.: Public Comments or Presentations, 5 p.m.-End of First Day. Tuesday, September 23, 2003, 08:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: Discussion of Options and Future Committee Actions, 12 p.m.-Closing Comments, 2 p.m.-End of Meeting. A final agenda will be available to the public prior to the beginning of the meeting.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kenneth Edgell or Minnie McDonald, Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC), Office of the Secretary, Department of Transportation at voice (202) 366-3784, fax (202) 366-3897.

Definitions in the Louisiana Regulations – Revisions

There have been some recent changes to the definitions in the Louisiana Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Regulations. These changes include a modification to the definition of Master Meter System, as well as the addition of two new terms: School System and Special Class System. The current differences between the state and federal definitions include:

  1. There are two definitions given in the Federal regulations that are not included by the state of Louisiana: abandoned and outer continental shelf.
  2. The state definitions include the following terms not found among the federal list: business district, Commissioner, master meter system, natural gas distribution system, non rural area, production facility, school system,special class system, Secretary, system, and test failure.
  3. The federal definition of transportation of gas includes a clause specifying the storage of gas “in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce”.

Feel free to contact us if we can be of assistance with your State of Louisiana pipeline regulatory compliance activities.

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Technical Pipeline Safety Standards Committees; Vacancies

The Research and Special Programs Administration’s (RSPA) Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) seeks applications for membership on the Technical Pipeline Safety Standards Committee (TPSSC) and the Technical Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Standards Committee (THLPSSC). The TPSSC and the THLPSSC review and report on proposed standards relating to the transportation of gas or hazardous liquids through pipelines or of the operation of gas or hazardous liquid pipeline facilities. The Committees meet at least twice during each calendar year. In addition, Committee members may be polled or asked for comments on notices of proposed rulemaking or other matters at any time without formally assembling at one place.

Each Committee consists of 15 members. Five members each are selected from Federal, State, or local governmental agencies. Two of these are State Commissioners selected after consultation with representatives of the national organization of State Commissions. Five members are selected from the natural gas or hazardous liquids pipeline industry, after consultation with industry representatives. Three must be currently engaged in the active operation of pipelines and at least one of the three must have education background or experience in risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis. Five members are to be selected from the general public. Individuals selected as public members may not have a significant financial interest in the pipeline, petroleum, or natural gas industry. Two of the public members must have education, background, or experience in environmental protection or public safety, and at least one of these will have education, background or experience in risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis.

RSPA will consider applications for 11 positions that expire or become vacant in mid-2003 in the following categories: (a) Federal, state, or local government (1 liquid vacancy; 3 gas vacancies-one must be a Commissioner); (b) Natural Gas/Hazardous Liquid Industry (No vacancies at this time); (c) General Public (5 liquid vacancies and 2 gas vacancies). Each member serves a 3-year term, but may be reappointed. All members serve at their own expense and receive no salary from the Federal Government, although travel reimbursement and per diem are provided.

You may request an application form by writing to Research and Special Programs Administration, Office of Pipeline Safety (DPS-12), U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590; by calling 202-493-0967; or by faxing 202-366-4566; or by e-mailing Send your application in written form to the above street address. This notice and the application form are available on the Internet at under docket number 4470. Application forms should reach RSPA/OPS on or before October 15, 2003.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cheryl Whetsel, OPS, (202) 366-4431 or Richard Huriaux, OPS, (202) 366-4565, regarding the subject matter of this notice.

OQ update

As mentioned in last month’s newsletter, Duke Energy and INGAA hosted an OQ update meeting on August 28. Some of the items that were discussed in that meeting include:

  • OQ audits are still mostly “process” oriented, and not “content” oriented.
  • OQ audits are not currently looking in-depth at control room operator qualification programs.
  • OPS intends to conduct OQ audits in conjunction with regular compliance audits in the future. There won’t be a lot of audits specifically for OQ.
  • Re-qualification intervals should be determined on a task-specific basis.
  • OPS expects to see some quantitative limitations for work performed by “unqualified” individuals under the supervision of a qualified employee, such as a numerical ratio (i.e. 3 unqualified per 1 qualified). This should also include limitations on which tasks can never be performed by an unqualified person (welding is an example).
  • OQ should be expanded to include pipeline integrity management tasks, when those rules apply to a pipeline operator.
  • Make sure your OQ program and your O&M; manual are consistent, and that they are the procedures that are actually used by the field.
  • The new mini-OQ rule may be delayed until the end of this year.
  • The ASME B 31-Q standards committee is actively working on a “technically based” qualification standard, which should have a working draft by mid-2004.

The following items fall under the category of “I heard it, but I hope it isn’t really true”:

  • OPS is expecting operators to evaluate and accept / reject individual task qualifications provided by third parties, such as NCCER and MEA. For example, an operator should do an evaluation to determine if MEA’s qualification process for task XX meets the operator’s OQ program requirements – and so forth for every individual task qualification from every third party whose program the operator intends to accept. It may not be sufficient to simply accept all MEA, NCCER, etc. task qualifications as being acceptable, without a detailed, individual analysis of each task.
  • OPS expects operators to treat all third parties conducting covered tasks for the operator as contractors. This would include other pipeline company employees, who are themselves already covered by their company’s OQ program. For example, if a Shell pipeline employee did a covered task for an ExxonMobil pipeline (say, as part of a jointly operated facility), that Shell employee would have to be qualified under the ExxonMobil OQ program. It may not be good enough for ExxonMobil to rely on the fact that Shell’s OQ program is independently audited and approved by the DOT.

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