In This Issue

Operator Qualification, Cost Recovery, Accident and Incident Notification, Etc.

[Docket No. PHMSA-2013-0163]

PHMSA is amending the pipeline safety regulations to address requirements of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 (2011 Act), and to update and clarify certain regulatory requirements. Among other provisions, PHMSA is adding a specific time frame for telephonic or electronic notifications of accidents and incidents and adding provisions for cost recovery for design reviews of certain new projects, for the renewal of expiring special permits, and setting out the process for requesting protection of confidential commercial information. PHMSA is also amending the drug and alcohol testing requirements, and incorporating consensus standards by reference for in-line inspection (ILI) and Stress Corrosion Cracking Direct Assessment (SCCDA). The specific amendments codified by this final rule are listed in detail below:

  • Specifying an operator’s accident and incident reporting time to not later than one hour after confirmed discovery and requiring revision or confirmation of initial notification within 48 hours of the confirmed discovery of the accident or incident;
  • Setting up a cost recovery fee structure for design review of new gas and hazardous liquid pipelines with either overall design and construction costs totaling at least $2,500,000,000 or that contain new and novel technologies;
  • Addressing the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) recommendation to clarify training requirements for control room personnel;
  • Providing a renewal procedure for expiring special permits;
  • Excluding farm taps from the requirements of the Distribution Integrity Management Program (DIMP) requirements while proposing safety requirements for the farm taps;
  • Requiring pipeline operators to report to PHMSA a change in product (e.g., from liquid to gas, from crude oil to highly volatile liquids (HVL)) or a permanent reversal of flow that lasts more than 30 days;
  • Providing methods for assessment tool selection by incorporating consensus standards by reference in part 195 for stress corrosion cracking direct assessment (SCCDA) that were not developed when the Integrity Management (IM) regulations were issued;
  • Requiring electronic reporting of drug and alcohol testing results in part 199;
  • Modifying the criteria used to make decisions about conducting post-accident drug and alcohol tests and requiring operators to keep for at least 3 years a record of the reason why post-accident drug and alcohol tests were not conducted;
  • Including the procedure to request protection for confidential commercial information submitted to PHMSA;
  • Adding reference to appendix B of API 1104 related to in-service welding in parts 192 and 195; and
  • Amending minor editorial corrections.

This final rule was published with an effective date of March 24, 2017, but it will be subject to the new administration’s executive order which extends recent rule effective dates, and it is also subject to further review / revision during that time. Stay tuned! For a copy of the Final Rule, contact Jessica Foley.