In This Issue

PHMSA Final Rule: Valve Installation and Minimum Rupture Detection Standards

[Docket No. PHMSA-2013-0255]

In case you missed this article in the April edition of our newsletter, we felt that it was important enough to run again. Operators must develop and incorporate procedures for implementing these requirements into their Operations and Maintenance Manuals prior to October 12, 2022.

PHMSA is revising the Federal Pipeline Safety Regulations applicable to most newly constructed and entirely replaced onshore gas transmission, Type A gas gathering, and hazardous liquid pipelines with diameters of 6 inches or greater. This rule has been in development since two high profile incidents occurred in 2010 – PG&E’s rupture in San Bruno, CA and failure of Enbridge’s Line 6 near Marshall, MI. Both events resulted in NTSB targeting recommendations to PHMSA requiring ROVs/ASVs on all new and existing transmission and liquids pipelines.

In the revised regulations, PHMSA requires operators of these lines to install rupture-mitigation valves (i.e., remote control or automatic shut-off valves) or alternative equivalent technologies and establishes minimum performance standards for those valves’ operation to prevent or mitigate the public safety and environmental consequences of pipeline ruptures. This final rule establishes requirements for rupture-mitigation valve spacing, maintenance and inspection, and risk analysis. The final rule also requires operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines to contact 9-1-1 emergency call centers immediately upon notification of a potential rupture and conduct post-rupture investigations and reviews. Operators must also incorporate lessons learned from such investigations and reviews into operators’ personnel training and qualifications programs, and design, construction, testing, maintenance, operations, and emergency procedure manuals and specifications.

Highlights of the rule are:

  • The new rules apply to most Type A gas gathering, gas transmission (with limited exceptions), and hazardous liquid pipelines, including a small subset of rural gathering which crosses bodies of water greater than 100 feet wide.
  • Entirely replaced is a new definition for gas and liquids and is generally inclusive of two (2) or more miles of pipe replaced within a contiguous 5-mile segment during a 24-month period.
  • Rupture-mitigation valve (RMV) means an automatic shut-off valve (ASV) or a remote control valve (RCV) that a pipeline operator uses to minimize the volume of gas released from the pipeline and to mitigate the consequences of a rupture. No matter which option is selected, the pressures upstream and downstream must be monitored. There is a mechanism to seek alternative technologies, e.g. manual valves with no guarantee of approval.
  • The rule creates new minimum valve spacing and defines other locations where valve installation will be required.
  • Rule establishes minimum safety performance standards for the identification of ruptures, pipeline segment isolation, and other mitigative actions for pipelines on which Rupture Mitigation Valves (RMVs) or alternate technology are installed.
  • Responding to an identified rupture by closing RMVs, to provide complete valve shut-off and segment isolation as soon as practicable but no more than 30 minutes after rupture identification.
  • Performing post-event reviews of any incidents/accidents or other failure events involving the closure of RMVs to ensure the performance objectives are met and to apply any lessons learned system-wide
  • Performing maintenance on RMVs
  • Remediation measures for repair or replacement of inoperable RMVs, including an RMV that cannot maintain shut-off, as soon as practicable
  • Update emergency plans to reflect new requirements for covered pipelines

The NTSB has called out PHMSA’s failure to include all existing pipelines and stated this rule would not have been effective in mitigating the consequences of the failure in San Bruno. So, it is unknown at this time whether the Board will ultimately consider PHMSA’s actions acceptable or unacceptable.

Effective Date: October 5, 2022

For a copy of this Final Rule, all of you Really Cool People can contact Jessica Foley.