The Department of Transportation / Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (DOT/PHMSA) issued Advisory Bulletin ADB-08-03, “Pipeline Safety: Dangers of Abnormal Snow and Ice Build-Up on Gas Distribution Systems.” Recent events on natural gas distribution system facilities appear to be related to either the stress of snow and ice or malfunction of pressure control equipment due to ice blockage of pressure control equipment vents by ice. This advisory bulletin advises owners and operators of gas pipelines of the need to take steps to prevent damage to pipeline facilities from accumulated snow or ice.
PHMSA is advising operators of gas pipeline facilities, regardless of whether those facilities are regulated by PHMSA or state agencies, to consider the following steps to address the safety risks from accumulated snow and ice on pipeline facilities:
- Notify customers and other entities of the need for caution associated with excessive accumulation and removal of snow and ice. Notice should include the need to clear snow and ice from exhaust and combustion air vents for gas appliances to prevent accumulation of carbon monoxide in buildings or operational problems for the combustion equipment.
- Pay attention to snow and ice related situations that may cause operational problems for pressure control and other equipment.
- Monitor the accumulation of moisture in equipment and snow or ice blocking regulator or relief valve vents which could prevent regulators and relief valves from functioning properly.
- The piping on service regulator sets is susceptible to damage that could result in failure if caution is not exercised in cleaning snow from around the equipment. Where possible, use a broom, instead of a shovel to clear snow off regulators, meters, associated piping, propane tanks, tubing, gauges or other propane system appurtenances.
- Remind the public to contact the gas company or designated emergency response officials if there is an odor of gas present or if gas appliances are not functioning properly. Also remind the public that, if there is a gas or propane odor, occupants should leave the residence immediately and contact their gas company, propane operator or designated emergency response officials.
For a copy of this Advisory Bulletin, contact Jessica Roger.