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Pipeline Corrosion May Face New Rules

Friday, August 26, 2011

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Stronger corrosion control measures are among the mandates under consideration as the federal government weighs new safety requirements for the nation’s gas transmission pipelines.

 NTSB investigator inspects pipeline surface

 Photos: NTSB

A National Transportation Safety Board investigator inspects fracture surfaces in the San Bruno pipeline. An incomplete weld is suspected in the blast; PG&E records had said the pipe was seamless.

In an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued Thursday (Aug. 25), the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration requested public comment on several issues related to current and potential pipeline regulations.

Focus on 14 Topics

In all, PHMSA is seeking public comment on 14 specific topics related to pipeline integrity management and pipeline system integrity.

Integrity management programs combine periodic inspection and testing of a pipeline’s condition with continuous management processes to collect, integrate, analyze, and apply information about possible risks. 

Among the measures under consideration by PHMSA:

• Whether to strengthen corrosion control requirements for steel pipelines;

• Whether to eliminate certain regulatory exemptions for pipelines constructed before 1970;

• Whether to strengthen and/or broaden integrity management requirements for pipelines;

• Whether to require reduced operating pressure for some pipelines built before 1970 that were previously exempt from other requirements;

• Revising requirements on valves for new or existing pipelines; and

• Whether to impose new regulations to govern the safety of gathering lines and underground gas storage facilities.

Pipeline Safety Initiative

The Advance Notice is part of DOT Secretary Ray LaHood’s national pipeline safety initiative, which was announced in April. That multifaceted effort is aimed at preventing a repeat of several fatal pipeline explosions nationwide over the last year.

“The safety of the American people is my top priority,” said LaHood.  “I am committed to working with pipeline operators, utilities, local governments and members of the public to ensure our nation’s pipeline infrastructure is safe and well-maintained.”

 Pipeline explosion
Pipeline integrity management is a key issue in the continuing federal investigation into the September 2010 explosion of a Pacific Gas & Electric transmission line that killed eight people and leveled dozens of homes in San Bruno, CA.

The public comment period for this notice ends 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.

“Incidents with significant consequences continue to occur on gas transmission pipelines, and this action will help us determine whether new requirements are needed to increase safety,” said PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman.


Tagged categories: Corrosion; Corrosion protection; Explosions; Health and safety; Petrochemical Plants; Pipeline; Pipelines; Regulations; Steel

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (12/8/2011, 8:30 AM)

Every pipeline which could put the public at significant risk (such as the San Bruno/PG&E gas line) should be required to have periodic hydrostatic testing. Once a decade sounds about right.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (12/8/2011, 8:35 AM)

Public comments can be submitted to - search for PHMSA-2011-0023 on that site.

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