In This Issue

PHMSA Study of Impact of One-Call Exemptions

Under the requirements of Section 3 of the 2011 Pipeline Safety Legislation, The Department of Transportation/Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) was required to conduct a study on the impact of excavation damage on pipeline safety. The study was to include an analysis on the frequency and severity of different types of excavation damage, including analysis and review of impact of exemptions to the one-call notification requirements in each State. The study has just been issued by PHMSA, “A Study on the Impact of Excavation Damage on Pipeline Safety.” Findings of the report include:

  • More data is needed to adequately assess the impact of exemptions on pipeline safety
  • Activity-based exemptions may be acceptable, but should be supported by sufficient data
  • Targeted education is needed for stakeholders, particularly groups exempted from excavation notification requirements

PHMSA says state damage prevention laws should apply to all excavators. PHMSA calls for increased education about damage prevention to excavators, singling out the agriculture and road maintenance sectors. PHMSA noted that some excavators wrongly assume they are categorically exempted from one-call requirements for all types of excavation, when exemptions may apply only to certain low-depth excavation activities. PHMSA says some activity-based one-call exemptions may be acceptable in certain circumstances, but should be supported by sufficient data.

PHMSA notes more data could be collected by the Common Ground Alliance Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT), by state agencies, locators, excavators, industry, and by PHMSA, itself. The DIRT tool collects great information about excavation damage, but little or no analysis is done to determine whether such damage is related to a state one-call exemption.

The report also provides detailed information & comments collected at PHMSA’s public workshop held March 14, 2013 to discuss One Call exemptions.

For a copy of the study, contact Jessica Foley.