APGA and SIF Speak at Tennessee Gas Association Conference

By John Erickson posted 14 days ago

On April 9, APGA’s John Erickson briefed the attendees of the Tennessee Gas Association Distribution & Operations Conference in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on current issues affecting operators of gas utilities. He noted that the Pipeline Safety Act was due to be reauthorized this year and that congressional hearings have already begun. Congress could reauthorize the law as written and merely extend the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) budget for another four years; however, Congress typically adds requirements for additional studies and/or regulations. As in prior reauthorizations, significant pipeline safety accidents that occurred just before reauthorization are a focus of the legislation. He told attendees that last years’ over-pressure incident in Massachusetts is receiving attention during this reauthorization process.

He briefly discussed the recent final rules for plastic pipe and urged attendees to register for the webinar on April 24 in which the details for the rule will be discussed more fully. He also mentioned the increasing interest in Pipeline Safety Management Systems (PSMS). Even though PHMSA has not incorporated PSMS into its regulations, it is encouraging states to question operators about PSMS during compliance audits. APGA has worked with other trade associations to create tools to assist operators to assess their level of PSMS implementation. These can be found at www.pipelinesms.com.

He continued with an overview of APGA’s System Operational Achievement Recognition (SOAR), Gas Overall Awareness Level (GOAL), and benchmarking programs. He noted that 10 Tennessee utilities have been awarded SOAR, more than any other state. He encouraged attendees to review SOAR criteria and apply when the process for 2020 begins on January 1.

He closed with a detailed discussion of recent changes to the Simple Handy Risk-based Integrity Management Plan (SHRIMP). Earlier this month, the APGA Security and Integrity Foundation (SIF) released a major update that improved the risk ranking model and addressed several changes to PHMSA’s integrity management inspection procedures. The next time SHRIMP users log into SHRIMP they will see a list of changes and those changes will be included in their next written IMP plans.

For questions on this article, please contact John Erickson of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-2742 or by email at jerickson@apga.org.