[Docket No. PHMSA-2011-0023]
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has published their report on
PHMSA’s state pipeline safety program, as a result of a previous recommendation
related to the San Bruno incident. NTSB assessed PHMSA’s (1) policies and
procedures for managing its State Pipeline Safety Program, including guidelines
to participating States, and (2) oversight of State pipeline safety programs.
The report concluded that PHMSA’s guidelines, policies, and procedures for
State pipeline safety programs lack elements to ensure State inspections cover
all Federal requirements and pipeline operators maintain safety standards. The
staffing formula in the guidelines is outdated. The guidelines also lack
sufficient detail on States’ use of risk factors for scheduling inspections and
do not require PHMSA evaluators to review the adequacy of States’ inspection
procedures. Furthermore, PHMSA lacks formal written procedures to guide its
triennial reviews of State programs’ expenditures.
NTSB also believes that PHMSA’s oversight of State pipeline safety programs also does not ensure that States comply with program evaluation requirements and properly use all grant funds. Lapses in oversight have resulted in undetected safety weaknesses in State programs. Because it has not accounted for these non-compliances, the Agency cannot be sure that States correct program deficiencies. Furthermore, PHMSA has neither provided States sufficient guidance on suspension funds nor completed financial audits of their use.
The full report is available here.