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PHMSA Publishes Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Emergency Response and Transmission Pipeline Valves

By Erin Kurilla posted 02-06-2020 11:37 AM

  
On February 6, in the Federal Register, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published the long-awaited Valve Installation and Minimum Rupture Detection Standards Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). This rule is to address congressional mandates from Section 4 of the 2011 Pipeline Safety Act. While the majority of the new requirements in the rule are specific to new or replaced gas transmission and hazardous liquid pipelines, there are elements of the rule that impact gas distribution systems. The rule has three primary components: Emergency Plans, internal incident investigation, and transmission line valve installation.

The first element, which also applies to gas distribution operators, proposes additional specificity for Emergency Plans. Currently operators are required to communicate with “fire, police, and other public officials.” PHMSA is now expanding that requirement to include “public safety answering points (9-1-1 emergency call centers).” They are asking operators to deepen those relationships to ensure that lines of communication are established in the event of an emergency.

PHMSA has also significantly expanded the requirements related to investigation of failures. It proposes that operators “must develop, implement, and incorporate lessons learned from a post-incident review into its procedures, including in pertinent operator personnel training and qualification programs, and in design, construction, testing, maintenance, operations and emergency procedure manuals and specifications.”

Lastly, PHMSA introduces a new section requiring the installation of valves on new transmission pipelines or pipelines where two or more contiguous miles have been replaced in High Consequence Areas or Class 3 or Class 4 locations. PHMSA includes specific valve spacing requirements as well as response time expectations for the isolation of these transmission lines should a rupture occur.

APGA will be working collaboratively with the other industry trade associations to file joint comments. Comments are due to PHMSA by April 6. On Monday February 24 at 2:00 PM ET, APGA will host a webinar to discuss in more detail the contents of the rule and to gather member input for these comments.

For questions on this article, please contact Erin Kurilla of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-0834 or by email at ekurilla@apga.org.
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