October 17, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to amend title 49, United States
Code, to provide for enhanced safety and environmental protection in pipeline
transportation and to provide for enhanced reliability in the transportation of
the Nation’s energy products by pipeline. This legislation was initiated in
response to recent pipeline incidents of gas and oil pipelines.
The Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2011 (S. 275) would require automatic or remote-controlled shut-off valves on transmission pipelines, replacement of cast iron pipelines, leak detection, more federal safety inspectors, and higher penalties for safety violations. The bill would also increase public availability of information on the pipelines – such as monthly inspection reports with all enforcement actions taken – and require that this information be made available online via PHMSA’s website. Additional highlights of the bill include:
- Prohibits a State one-call notification program from exempting municipalities, state agencies, or their contractors from its one-call notification system requirements.
- Regulations subjecting offshore hazardous liquid gathering pipelines, and hazardous liquid gathering pipelines located within the inlets of the Gulf of Mexico, to the same standards and regulations as other hazardous liquid gathering pipelines.
- Regulations to require the use of excess flow valves on new or entirely replaced distribution branch services, multi-family facilities, and small commercial facilities located in high-density population areas and environmentally sensitive areas.
- Evaluate integrity management safety system requirements in regards to:
- whether integrity management system requirements should be expanded beyond HCAs,
- gas pipeline facilities, whether applying the integrity management program requirements to additional areas would mitigate the need for class location requirements, with an emphasis on class 3 and 4 facilities; and,
- whether data collected outside HCAs as part of gas transmission pipeline IMPs should be included as part of the records required to be maintained by operators.
- Revises national pipeline mapping system requirements to require each pipeline operator to provide the Secretary certain geospatial, technical, or other related pipeline data, including design and material specifications.
- Authorizes the Secretary to collect geospatial, technical, or other pipeline data on transportation-related oil flow lines (pipelines transporting oil off the grounds of the well across areas not owned by the producer).
- Directs the Secretary to require gas pipeline operators to verify records for all interstate and intrastate gas transmission lines in class 3 and class 4 locations and class 1 and class 2 high consequence areas to reflect accurately the pipelines’ physical and operational characteristics and confirm their established maximum allowable operating pressures.
For a copy of Senate Bill 275, Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act 2011, contact Jessica Roger.