In This Issue

Operator Qualification: Public Meeting

The Research and Special Programs Administration’s (RSPA) Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) will conduct a public meeting from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on February 25, 26, and 27, 2003, to discuss progress in implementing the operator qualification (OQ) rule for gas and hazardous liquid pipelines. OPS will continue to develop the protocols and guidance materials, and provide an opportunity for public comment. A panel of experts will address technical issues associated with protocols and related materials. The program will address the 13 issues generated by the first public meeting held in January 2003, and will be open for technical input. This will include presentations on definitions of terms discussed at the last meeting. Persons wishing to make a presentation or statement at the meeting should notify Janice Morgan, (202) 366-2392, no later than February 19, 2003.

The public meeting will be held at the Hyatt Regency Houston Airport Hotel, 15747 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Houston, TX 77032 (Tel: 800-233-1234); Fax: 281-590-8461; Web: This meeting is free and open to the public. You may register electronically for this meeting at: The deadline for making a hotel reservation is February 17, 2003. Although RSPA encourages persons wishing to comment on operator qualification and inspection protocols to participate in the public meeting, written comments will be accepted. All written comments should identify the docket number RSPA-03-14448; Notice 2. A record of the previous public meeting on Qualification of Pipeline Personnel that was held in San Antonio, TX, is available in this docket (RSPA-03-14448).

You may contact Richard Sanders at (405) 954-7214 or (405) 954-7219, regarding the agenda of this public meeting. The meeting will focus on areas considered high priority and discussion on compliance issues from Federal and State pipeline safety personnel. These issues, as identified at a previous public meeting on January 22, 2003, in San Antonio, TX, are as follows:

  1. Scope of operator qualification;
  2. Evaluation of knowledge, skills, and physical ability;
  3. Re-evaluation intervals;
  4. Maintenance versus new construction;
  5. Treatment of emergency response;
  6. Additional covered tasks;
  7. Extent of documentation;
  8. Abnormal operating conditions;
  9. Treatment of training;
  10. Criteria for small operators;
  11. Direction and observation of non-qualified people;
  12. Noteworthy practices;
  13. Persons contributing to an incident or accident. All persons attending the meeting will have an opportunity to comment on operator qualification compliance issues and to question the expert panel on the new operator qualification compliance protocols.