PHMSA Adopts New Safety Rules for Hazardous Liquid Pipelines

PHMSA Safety Rules

One of the key requirements is for inspections following extreme weather events:

Under this requirement, an operator must inspect all potentially affected pipeline facilities following these types of events to detect conditions that could adversely affect the safe operation of the pipeline. The operator must consider the nature of the event and the physical characteristics, operating conditions, location, and prior history of the affected pipeline in determining whether the event necessitates an inspection as well as the appropriate method for performing the inspection. If the event creates a likelihood that there is damage to pipeline infrastructure, the operator must commence an inspection within 72 hours after the cessation of the event, defined as the point in time when the area can be safely accessed by personnel and equipment, including availability of personnel and equipment, required to perform the inspection. PHMSA has found that 72 hours is reasonable and achievable in most cases based on prior observations of extreme events. If an operator finds an adverse condition, the operator must take appropriate remedial action to ensure the safe operation of a pipeline based on the information obtained from the inspection. Such actions might include, but are not limited to:

  • Reducing the operating pressure or shutting down the pipeline;
  • Isolating pipelines in affected areas and performing ‘‘stand up’’ leak tests;            
  • Modifying, repairing, or replacing any damaged pipeline facilities;
  • Preventing, mitigating, or eliminating any unsafe conditions in the pipeline rights-of-way; Performing additional patrols, depth of cover surveys, ILI or hydrostatic tests, or other inspections to confirm the condition of the pipeline and identify any imminent threats to the pipeline;
  • Implementing emergency response activities with Federal, State, or local personnel; and
  • Notifying affected communities of the steps that can be taken to ensure public safety.

This requirement is based on the experience of PHMSA and is expected to increase the likelihood that operators will find and respond to safety conditions more quickly. (3) Require Assessments of Pipelines That Are Not Already Covered Under the IM Program Requirements at Least Once Every 10 Years.