In This Issue

Public Meetings on Operator Qualifications

[Docket No. RSPA-04-19857]

This notice announces a public meeting on operator qualification programs. PHMSA is preparing a Report to Congress on the status and results of programs to ensure the qualifications of individuals performing safety tasks on pipelines.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has almost completed developing a consensus standard qualifying individuals performing safety tasks on pipelines.

The two purposes of this public meeting are to gather information about improvements in operator qualification programs for the Report to Congress and to identify how we can best use B31Q to strengthen the programs.

The meeting will take place at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel, 480 L’Enfant Plaza, SW., Washington, D.C. 20024 on December 15, 2005, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The phone number for reservations at the hotel is 202-484-1000. The agenda includes discussion of the following issues:

  • Why do we have more confidence today in the qualifications of pipeline personnel?
  • What are the primary contributions made during the past four years in improving safety through better qualification programs for pipeline personnel? To what extent have these exceeded regulatory compliance?
  • What is the best way to use the B31Q standard to improve programs?
  • Are there any elements of the B31Q standard that PHMSA should incorporate into the regulations? If so, which ones would be the best to incorporate?
  • Are there any aspects of operator qualification that require greater flexibility to avoid cost impacts with minimal safety benefit?
  • Can operators develop performance metrics that could assure equivalent safety through a more flexible performance-based approach?
  • How do we continue to improve operator qualification programs without the uncertainty of continual change?
  • Are protocols and “Frequently Asked Questions” the best way to provide necessary prescription, clarity, and consistency to performance regulations?
  • When is training appropriate?
  • How does an operator provide enough objectivity in evaluating an employee’s knowledge and skills?
  • Should the regulations go beyond operation and maintenance and include additional tasks that affect the safety and integrity of the pipeline as covered tasks?
  • How do we best foster the portability of qualifications?
  • Should emergencies such as Katrina trigger exceptions?
  • Would mechanisms for operators to share success stories about operator qualification benefit overall safety?