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Pipeline Safety Rules to Be Expanded

Friday, May 13, 2011

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Federal pipeline safety regulations will be extended to cover rural, low-stress, hazardous liquid pipelines as of Oct. 1, 2011, under a new rule issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

PHMSA issued a final rule May 5 amending the Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Enforcement, and Safety (PIPES) Act of 2006, to cover smaller rural pipelines that were largely exempted from the rule’s first phase.

The PIPES Act required PHMSA to ``issue regulations subjecting low-stress hazardous liquid pipelines to the same standards and regulations as other hazardous liquid pipelines.'

But the rule also allowed for phased implementation.

Pipeline Priorities Set

PHSMA developed the first PIPES rules for higher-risk, larger-diameter (8 5/8 inches or greater), rural low-stress pipelines located within a half-mile of a so-called unusually sensitive area (USA).

 hazardous liquid pipelines

The rule subjects low-stress hazardous liquid pipelines to the same standards as other hazardous liquid pipelines.

Not only were these pipelines considered a greater danger, but PHMSA had the most information on them to prepare a regulatory cost/benefit evaluation.

The initial regulation did not apply to a hazardous liquid pipeline operating at low stress in a rural area, unless the line crossed a commercially navigable waterway.

The agency held off on the lower-risk pipelines that are now being covered by Phase 2 of the implementation plan, which was announced in June 2010 in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The new rule applies Part 195 safety requirements to all rural low-stress pipelines not included in the Phase 1 rule.

(PHMSA defines a rural area as “one outside the limits of any incorporated or unincorporated city, town, village or any other designated residential or commercial area, such as a subdivision, a business or shopping center or community development.”)

Integrity Management Requirements

Section 195.452 addresses Integrity Management requirements for hazardous liquid pipelines.

It requires operators to take additional actions for each pipeline segment that could affect populated areas, commercially navigable waterways, unusually sensitive areas and other so-called “high consequence areas” (HCA).

Pipeline operators must determine which segments of their pipeline could affect an HCA. This includes considering:

• The topography and nature of ground cover around the pipelines, to estimate the direction and distance that released product might flow;

• The potential transport of released product via nearby waterways, factoring in seasonal variations in flow and stream turbulence; and

• An operator’s ability to respond to a release and contain further transport of a spilled product.

PHMSA scrapped plans during the Phase 1 rulemaking to require operators to perform a complete “could affect” analysis and decided that a half-mile buffer would be sufficient for the rule.


Tagged categories: Health and safety; Pipeline

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