The Texas Railroad Commission (TRRC) adopted Chapter 18, Underground Pipeline Damage Prevention, as part of the Texas Administrative Code (TAC), and was published in the Texas Register on June 15, 2007. The new rule is effective September 1, 2007.
TRRC adopted §§18.1 – 18.12 of the new Chapter 18, entitled Underground Pipeline Damage prevention (with changes to the proposed versions published December 22, 2006) relating to:
- Scope, Applicability, and General Provisions;
- Excavator Notice to Notification Center;
- Excavator Obligation to Avoid Damage to Underground Pipelines;
- Operator and Excavator Obligations with Respect to Positive Response;
- General Marking Requirements;
- Excavator Marking Requirements;
- Operator Marking Requirements;
- Options for Managing an Excavation Site in the Vicinity of an Underground Pipeline;
- Excavation within Tolerance Zone;
- Reporting Requirements; and
- Penalty Guidelines.
The new rules in Chapter 18, with some stated exceptions, would apply to all persons engaged in or preparing to engage in the movement of earth in the vicinity of an intrastate underground pipeline containing flammable, toxic, or corrosive gas, a hazardous liquid, or carbon dioxide. However, the legislation amending Texas Natural Resources Code, §117.012, and Texas Utilities Code, §121.201, specifically authorizes the Commission to exempt other entities or occupations if the Commission determines in its rulemaking process that exempting those entities or occupations from the rules is either in the public interest or not likely to cause harm to the safety and welfare of the public. The Commission gives notice that one result of this rulemaking may be the exemption of additional entities and/or activities from the new rules in Chapter 18.
Although there are some specific requirements for both excavators and pipeline operators set forth in the proposed new rules, generally the Commission attempted to avoid provisions that would either duplicate or contradict the mandates of Texas Utilities Code, Chapter 251, the Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act. There may be persons exempt from the provisions of Texas Utilities Code, Chapter 251 that would be required to comply with this chapter.
For a copy of the final rule language, go to this website.