In This Issue

NTSB Report on PHMSA’s State Pipeline Safety Program

[Docket No. PHMSA-2011-0023]

The 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 The staffing formula in the guidelines is outdated.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.