Companies involved in the transportation of natural gas or potentially hazardous liquids should carefully monitor the regulatory activities over the next several months.
Pipeline safety regulations were first passed in 1968 giving the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) authorization to oversee and implement the regulations. Various reauthorization acts have continued funding to implement and modify these regulations. Now, Congress is reacting strongly to several recent pipeline incidents involving fatalities and severe environmental impacts.
The Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty and Job Creation Act of 2011, passed in January 2012, requires DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to re-evaluate and, where appropriate, update regulations pertaining to the safe transportation of natural gas, petroleum and other hazardous materials by pipeline.
"This expands the federal regulatory reach to include some non-petroleum fuels, such as biofuels, and gives the DOT authority to study the transport of liquids from chemical production facilities," says Dana Book, Burns & McDonnell manager of pipeline projects in the Transmission & Distribution Group. "Some organizations not previously considered pipeline operators will need to carefully monitor regulatory developments at PHMSA."
PHMSA administers regulations that include safety measures in design, construction, testing, operation, maintenance and emergency response of pipeline facilities. Specifically, gas pipeline operators will be required to confirm their maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) in high consequence areas. "Without sufficient historical records, operators have few remedies beyond hydrostatic testing or replacement," Book says.
The act also requires studies on the feasibility of excess flow valves and leak detection systems with the possibility of new regulatory requirements after a review period.
The DOT is required by this act to institute several new regulatory requirements and has been given enhanced federal inspection and enforcement capabilities. Companies involved in the transportation of natural gas or potentially hazardous liquids should carefully monitor the regulatory activities over the next several months.
For more information, contact Dana Book, 816-823-7535.