PHMSA proposes changes to reporting requirements

PHMSA on July 2 released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Updates to Pipeline and Liquefied Natural Gas Reporting Requirements.

The proposed rule makes numerous changes for annual, incident and safety related condition reports for gas, hazardous liquid and LNG operators.  Key features include:

  • Changes to the definition of “incident” in 191.3.   Two additional criteria for incident are added; a volumetric loss of 3,000 MCF and “explosion or fire not intentionally set by the operator.”
  • A requirement to submit all reports to PHMSA electronically, including safety related condition reports and offshore pipeline condition reports.
  • Require LNG operators to submit incident and annual reports.
  • Modifying hazardous liquid telephonic notification requirements.

The proposed rule can be found in the docket at http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=PHMSA-2008-0291

We’ll have more discussion on this proposed rule in the coming days.

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NTSB issues annual report

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its its 2008 annual report to Congress.  The report summarizes accident investigations and safety recommendations.  It conducted 2 major pipeline investigations and adopted 1 pipeline brief in the last year.

PHMSA has one item on the NTSB’s “Most Wanted” list:

  • Reduce Accidents and Incidents Caused by Human Fatigue – Set working hour limits for pipeline controllers based on fatigue research, circadian rhythms and sleep and rest requirements.

This is listed as “category yellow” meaning acceptable response, progressing slowly.  The current proposed rule on Control Room Management/Human Factors will likely address this item.  The docket for the Control Room Management NPRM can be found at Docket ID PHMSA-2007-27954.

The new format of the report includes maps, new sections and quick view statistics for each office within the NTSB. The full report can be downloaded from http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/2009/SPC0901.htm

Reading the regulations

The latest Pipeline Safety Arena column, “Reading the regulations“, has been added to the site, click link 07 2009 on the left.

As an assist to understanding the regulatory purpose each Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Final Rule (FR) contains preambles with detailed explanations by PHMSA of the need for a rule amendment.  In Final Rules PHMSA categorizes comments to the proposed rule and responds to the comments explaining their position and whether the comment has affected the rule language.  Preambles can include examples, as in the Operator Qualification rule to explain covered tasks.  Generally the preamble is longer and more detailed than the rule itself, in the Operator Qualification rule the preamble was approximately 28 pages long to explain two pages of regulations.

Indiana has new damage prevention law!

The new Indiana damage prevention law goes into effect July 1, 2009.  The law is found at IC 8-1 Chapter 26  Damage to Underground Facilities.  Indiana received a $100,000 grant from PHMSA as specified in the PIPES Act of 2006 to assist states in developing effective damage prevention programs.

The new law includes provisions for civil penalties and establishes an Underground Plant Protection Advisory Committee to act in an advisory capacity to the commission in the enforcement of this law.  The pipeline safety division will investigate violations and forward their findings to the advisory committee.

The new law can be found at http://www.indiana811.org/law.php

Remember there are two types of people who should know about damage prevention actions – those who dig and those who don’t.

Energy bill passed in House

The House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (HR 2454) by a vote of 219-212 on Friday. The Senate must now consider this bill or introduce their own version.

Goals for greenhouse gas emissions are:
SEC. 702. ECONOMY-WIDE REDUCTION GOALS.
`The goals of the Safe Climate Act are to reduce steadily the quantity of United States greenhouse gas emissions such that–
`(1) in 2012, the quantity of United States greenhouse gas emissions does not exceed 97 percent of the quantity of United States greenhouse gas emissions in 2005;
`(2) in 2020, the quantity of United States greenhouse gas emissions does not exceed 80 percent of the quantity of United States greenhouse gas emissions in 2005;
`(3) in 2030, the quantity of United States greenhouse gas emissions does not exceed 58 percent of the quantity of United States greenhouse gas emissions in 2005; and
`(4) in 2050, the quantity of United States greenhouse gas emissions does not exceed 17 percent of the quantity of United States greenhouse gas emissions in 2005.

Full text of the bill can be found on Thomas, search for HR 2454.

Direct final rule confirms new standards

Confirmation of the direct final rule (DFR) for incorporating two new standards was published in the Federal Register today. PHMSA on April 14 published the DFR adding ANSI/API Spec 5L/ISO 3183 “Specification for Line Pipe” (44th edition, 2007) and API 1104 “Welding of Pipelines and Related Facilities,” (20th edition, errata, 2008) to 49 CFR 192.7 and 49 CFR 195.3.

The DFR states “Through use of these consensus standards, pipeline operators will be able to use current technology, materials, and practices. The incorporation of the most recent editions of these standards improves clarity, consistency, and accuracy, reduces unnecessary burdens on the regulated community and will provide, at minimum, an equivalent level of safety.”

The complete DFR can be found at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-15045.pdf

ViaData manager writes Pipeline Safety Arena column

ViaData Manager David Bull has been asked by Pipeline and Gas Technology magazine to be a contributing editor, writing the Pipeline Safety Arena Column. The column will address pipeline safety issues covering proposed and existing regulations, state and federal regulatory actions and topics of interest to the pipeline community.

As publisher of WinDOT, The Pipeline Safety Encyclopedia, David constantly reviews regulatory actions and researches thousands of interpretations and documents to assist clients in understanding compliance issues. He conducts numerous regulatory training sessions for pipeline operators and is on the associate staff for the Pipeline Safety Office of Training and Qualifications and a member of the GPTC Guide Committee.

The WinDOT Report is a direct result of writing the monthly Pipeline Safety Arena. Selecting topics and meeting a deadline for the column is a challenge each month, but he finds there is so much more to be said than can be included in the column. The WinDOT Report will be the outlet for those additional thoughts and opinions.

Links to David’s monthly columns and other articles are included on the menu. For in depth coverage of the pipeline industry, go to http://www.pipelineandgastechnology.com/