On Wednesday, July 22, 2020, the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC) for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) met to discuss the Valve Installation and Minimum Rupture Detection Standards rulemaking (view meeting page). This rule proposes to require the installation of rupture valves on new or replaced gas transmission and hazardous liquid pipelines. It aims to address specific Congressional mandates within the Pipeline Safety Act of 2011 and National Transportation Safety Board recommendations that resulted from the 2011 San Bruno incident. The proposed rule was published on February 6, 2020, and the joint industry trade associations (APGA, AGA, INGAA, and API) submitted comments on April 6, 2020.
During the meeting, the GPAC voted to adopt many of the industry’s recommendations, including:
- Clarifying the new term ‘notification of potential rupture’ is specific to gas transmission pipelines, but maintaining a broad definition of ‘rupture’ for future use in regulation
- Eliminating the prescriptive 10-minute rupture identification requirement.
- Considering an exemption for new or replaced gas transmission pipelines in Class 1, 2, or 3 areas with a potential impact radius less than 150 feet.
- Allowing a 24-month implementation of the final rule requirements.
The only elements of this rule that will be applicable to gas distribution pipelines will be the expanded general requirements for failure investigations after a PHMSA reportable incident and the inclusion of 9-1-1 call centers in emergency liaison activities. The revised section on incident investigation will now require operators to develop and follow their post-incident procedures when a reportable incident occurs. Once the final rule goes into effect those procedures must include sending failed materials to a laboratory for testing or examination where appropriate. Operators will also be required to develop and incorporate lessons learned after these incidents. Also, within emergency plans, gas distribution operators will be required to establish and maintain adequate means of communication with ‘public safety answering points (9-1-1 call centers)’ in addition to fire, police, and other public officials.
The joint industry trades are collaborating on the development of follow-up comments to PHMSA. The draft comments will be shared with the Operations & Safety Committee for their review prior to submission.
If you have any questions on this article, please contact Erin Kurilla of APGA’s staff by phone at (202) 905-2904 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.