In This Issue

Notice of proposed rulemaking: Pipeline Integrity Management in High Consequence Areas (Gas Transmission Pipelines)

The Research and Special Programs Administration / Office of Pipeline Safety (RSPA/OPS) proposes to establish a rule to require operators to develop integrity management programs for gas transmission pipelines that, in the event of a failure, could impact high consequence areas (HCAs). These integrity management programs would focus on requiring operators to comprehensively evaluate their pipelines, and take measures to protect pipeline segments located in high consequence areas. RSPA/OPS recently finalized the definition of high consequence areas by a separate rulemaking. This proposed rule proposes to expand the definition of HCAs by adding consideration of people living at distances greater than 660 feet from large diameter high-pressure pipelines. The current HCA definition only requires consideration of people living at distances up to 660 feet from pipelines.

RSPA/OPS believes it can best assure pipeline integrity by requiring each operator to: (a) Implement a comprehensive integrity management program; (b) conduct a baseline assessment and periodic reassessments focused on identifying and characterizing applicable threats; (c) mitigate significant defects discovered in this process; and (d) monitor the effectiveness of their programs so appropriate modifications can be recognized and implemented. This approach also recognizes that improving integrity requires operators to gather and evaluate data on the performance trends resulting from their programs, and to make improvements and corrections based on this evaluation. This proposed rule does not apply to gas gathering or to gas distribution lines. This proposed rule will satisfy Congressional mandates for RSPA/OPS to prescribe standards that establish criteria for identifying each gas pipeline facility located in a high-density population area and to prescribe standards requiring the periodic inspection of pipelines located in these areas, including the circumstances under which an inspection can be conducted using an instrumented internal inspection device (smart pig) or an equally effective alternative inspection method. The proposed rule also incorporates the required elements for gas integrity management programs recently mandated in the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002, which was signed into law on December 17, 2002.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Israni by phone at (202) 366-4571, by fax at (202) 366-4566, or by e-mail at mike.israni@rspa.dot.gov, regarding the subject matter of this proposed rule. Interested persons are invited to submit written comments by March 31, 2003 (docket 7666). Late-filed comments will be considered to the extent practicable.

The entire proposed rule with preamble can be downloaded from RCP’s website here through the Pipeline Integrity Management Gateway.