DOT Pipeline Compliance News

September 2012 Issue

In This Issue

PHMSA NPRM for Amendments to Administrative Procedures

[Docket No. PHMSA-2012-0102]

The Department of Transportation/Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to update the administrative civil penalty maximums for violation of the pipeline safety regulations; and update the informal hearing and adjudication process for pipeline enforcement matters to conform to current law.

In addition, PHMSA proposes to amend other administrative procedures used by PHMSA personnel, and make other technical corrections and updates to certain administrative procedures. These proposed amendments would implement certain provisions of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011. PHMSA believes that the proposed amendments do not impose any new operating, maintenance, or other substantive requirements on pipeline owners or operators. Proposed amendments to the regulation include:

  • Increase administrative civil penalty caps to $200,000 per violation per day, up to $2,000,000 for a related series of violations, in line with the increased limits in the 2011 Pipeline Act.
  • Add new provision prohibiting ex parte communications between the parties to an enforcement case and the presiding official or the Associate Administrator.
  • Add a new process for “expedited review” of corrective action orders issued without prior notice and an opportunity to comment, define “expedited review” and remove the requirement that the presiding official issue a recommendation to the Associate Administrator 48 hours after a hearing.
  • Mandate the filing of a petition for reconsideration as a prerequisite to seeking judicial review and add safety orders and corrective action orders to types of cases on which respondents may file petitions for reconsideration.
  • Add new provision requiring the separation of investigative and prosecutorial personnel from decisional personnel within PHMSA in the context of an enforcement case.
  • Broaden PHMSA’s power to issue subpoenas to include situations other than hearing cases.
  • Add provision implementing PHMSA’s new authority to seek civil penalties for obstructions of inspections or investigations.
  • Clarify that operators may submit written responses contesting the NOPV, in lieu of a hearing.

Submit comments on this NPRM by September 12, 2012, and reference Docket Number PHMSA-2012-0102. Comments may be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

For a copy of this NPRM, contact Jessica Roger.

TRRC Adopts Amended Rules Relating to Penalty Guidelines for Pipeline Safety Violations

[GUD Docket No. 10131 and 10130]

The Railroad Commission of Texas (TRRC) adopted amended rules to l6 TAC §8.135 and §18.12 adding guidelines for administrative penalties for pipeline safety violations. This rulemaking is part of a larger effort to align all TRRC penalty guidelines, and includes corresponding changes in oil and gas, liquefied petroleum gas, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and underground pipeline damage prevention penalty guidelines. Some of the increased penalties and new additions from 16 TAC §8.135(e) “Table 1. Typical Penalties” are outlined below:

RulesGuideline Penalty Amount
Increases to guideline penalty amounts for violation of pipeline permits (§3.70) and Organization Report (§8.51)From $1,000 to $5,000
Addition of line entries for §8.206 relating to Risk Based Leak Survey Program$5,000
Addition of line entries for §8.207 relating to Leak Grading & Repair$5,000
Addition of line entries for §8.208 relating to Mandatory Removal & Replacement Program$5,000
Addition of line entries for §8.209 relating to Distribution Facilities Replacements$5,000
Increase in the penalty guideline amount for violation of §8.215 relating to Odorization of GasFrom $5,000 to $10,000
Addition of line entries for violations related to requirements for corrosion control, maintenance, and gas distribution integrity management requirements$5,000
Increase in penalty guideline amounts for violations related to qualification of pipeline personnel and public awareness$5,000
Increase in amounts for violations for §8.230 and §8.235for violations related to pipeline facilities located within 1,000′ of a public school building or recreational area.$5,000

In addition, for violations in which the person charged has a history of prior violations within 7 years of the current enforcement action, they could face a penalty of up to 5 times the penalty amount.

The TRRC also adopted a new subsection 16 TAC §18.12(e) for typical penalties relating to excavation in the vicinity of an underground pipelines. These penalties include the failure to:

  • refresh an expired locate ticket
  • plan excavation to avoid damage or take reasonable steps to protect pipelines
  • confirm valid locate ticket
  • notify notification center for excavation activity after an emergency notice and the emergency condition ceased to exist
  • record and/or retain protocol agreement, and
  • failure of excavator to report pipeline damage to the operator.

These amended rules are effective August 27, 2012.

For a copy of these TRRC Amended Rules , contact Jessica Roger.

Nebraska State Proposed Rules Rule 183 – 3rd Set

The Nebraska State Public Service Commission (Commission) is proposing to Amend Title 291, Chapter 9, Natural Gas and Pipeline Rules and Regulations to adopt rules regarding pipelines and to implement the provisions of the Major Oil Pipeline Siting Act. (See related article in the May 2012 edition of the DOT Pipeline Compliance News.) Based upon the comments received and the testimony offered from the June 18 hearing, the Commission has released the third set of proposed rules, which include:

  • the addition of a requirement that a map of the proposed route be filed,
  • that the intended contents of any pipeline be more thoroughly identified or that a Safety Data Sheet be provided; and,
  • a description of the method for state agencies and emergency response personnel to obtain updated Safety Data Sheets for any products in the pipeline in the event of incident.

Written comments regarding this third set of proposed rules may be filed no later than September 28, 2012 by 5:00 p.m. Interested parties should provide 1 original and 5 copies and send an electronic copy to and

A hearing is scheduled for October 16, 2012 at 1 p.m. at 300 The Atrium, Conference Room, 1200 N Street, Lincoln, NE 68509. Nebraska Agency Contact: Kathy Lahman (402) 471-0221.

For a copy of Nebraska’s proposed rule, contact Jessica Roger.

National Pipeline Mapping System Updates Version 3

The National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) has released new High Consequence Area (HCA) data based upon the 2010 census that impacts Highly Populated Areas and Other Populated Areas. The Other Populated Areas (OPA) and Highly Populated Areas (HPA) are boundaries of populated areas; and during the last 10 years, a number of these have changed as populations increased or city/community boundaries were extended and/or changed. This data is used in Integrity Management Plans. The new data could either eliminate some current HCAs or create new HCAs.

For more information on how RCP can assist with your HCA Analysis, contact Jessica Roger.

API Damage Prevention Workshop September 12 -13, Houston, TX

Registration is now open for API’s Damage Prevention Workshop that will be held at the Doubletree Hotel, 15747 John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Houston. Click here for registration information and preliminary agenda. The deadline for pre-registration is September 5.

Day One – September 12 1PM – 5PM
Day 1 of this workshop will present the latest information concerning a Damage Prevention Practices toolbox, which should be useful to all types of energy pipeline operators. The workshop will include 3 breakout sessions to obtain feedback from the participants about the toolbox and its contents.

Day Two – September 13 8AM – 12:00 PM
Day 2 of this workshop will address issues related to legislative exemptions to various state excavation damage prevention laws, and will explain a recent industry initiative to rank state damage prevention legislation in order to prioritize states for further action. A breakout session will allow participants the opportunity to provide additional information and feedback to the state legislation ranking process, and to craft an action plan for high priority states.

API has arranged a discounted room block at the Doubletree Hotel at George Bush Intercontinental Airport for $159/night. Reservations can be made by calling 281-848-4001. Please be sure to mention the API meeting. The cut-off date for making room reservations is August 29, 2012.

For more information, contact Madeleine Sellouk.

Expert Forum on the Use of Performance-based Regulatory Models in the U.S. Oil & Gas Industry, Offshore and Onshore September 20 & 21 – Texas City, Texas

The Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), along with OSHA, US Coast Guard, EPA, the Department of Interior, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE); and Department of Homeland Security invite interested parties to participate in a co-sponsored stakeholder meeting, and submit comments on the use and implementation of performance-based regulatory models for enhanced safety and environmental performance in the U.S. oil & gas industry.

Speakers will address the current regulatory landscape and discuss the challenges and benefits of non-prescriptive, outcome-based approaches to reduce the frequency and severity of harmful events. Public attendees will have the opportunity to make comments at the meeting, and all members of the public may submit comments in writing.

The purpose of the meeting is to gather information from experts and stakeholders to help inform the consideration of future applications of performance-based regulatory approaches in the oil and gas sector. The agencies involved are soliciting input on potential concepts and options, and are not proposing specific changes to existing regulations at this time.

The meeting will take place on September 20 and 21, at the College of the Mainland, Texas City, Texas and hosted by the Gulf Coast Safety Institute. Click here for registration information to attend in person or via webcast. Seating will be limited to the first 150 registrants.

Location Details: College of the Mainland, Learning Resource Center, Room 131, 1200 Amburn Road, Texas City, Texas 77511. On-site parking will be available.

PHMSA Webinar – Valve Automation and Leak Detection Study Briefing

October 5, 2012 (9:00 am to 4:00pm EDT)

The Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) will be hosting a webinar on Friday October 5, 2012 discussing two studies commissioned by the organization in response to mandates from the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011, and NTSB recommendations from the San Bruno accident. The discussion and webinar will focus on improving pipeline leak detection system effectiveness and understanding the application of automatic control and remote control shutoff valves.

9:00 am to 12:00 pm: Briefing 1 – Leak Detection Study with Questions
Kiefner and Associates will present the draft report and answer questions on their findings for the leak detection study.

1:00 pm to 4:00 pm: Briefing 2 – Studies for the Requirement of Automatic and Remotely Controlled Shutoff Valves on Hazardous Liquids and Natural Gas Pipelines with Respect to Public and Environmental Safety
Oak Ridge National Laboratory will present their draft report and answer questions in regards to their study on automatic and remote control shutoff valves.

You must register to attend this web-based meeting. Online registration is now open. PHMSA contact: Jeff Gilliam,