Transportation Department unveils pipeline safety guidelines

Published on October 01, 2019 by Douglas Clark

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The Department of Transportation (DOT) recently issued three final rules to the Federal Register designed to strengthen onshore gas transmission and hazardous liquid pipeline safety.

The actions made under the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) focus on more than 500,000 miles of the nation’s pipelines, officials noted.

“These are significant revisions to federal pipeline safety laws and will improve the safety of our nation’s energy infrastructure,” Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said.

The gas transmission rule requires operators of gas transmission pipelines constructed before 1970 to determine the material strength of their lines by reconfirming the Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure (MAOP). The hazardous liquid rule encourages operators to make better use of all available data to understand pipeline safety threats and extends leak detection requirements to all non-gathering hazardous liquid pipelines.

The Enhanced Emergency Order Procedures rule adopts provisions of a 2016 interim final rule (IFR) establishing temporary emergency order procedures under a provision of the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 (PIPES Act).

“The tremendous growth in U.S. energy production will require greater anticipation and preparation for emerging risks to public safety,” PHMSA Administrator Skip Elliott said. “These forward-looking rules will help ensure pipeline operators invest in continuous improvements to pipeline safety and integrity management.”

The American Gas Association said the guidelines represent a consensus approach to enhancing the safety of transporting America’s abundance of natural gas.