On Sept. 21, 2012, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a second notice and request for comments in the Federal Register proposing revisions to 1) the hazardous liquid pipeline system accident report form, 2) the natural and other gas transmission and gathering pipeline systems incident report form, and 3) the annual report form for gas transmission and gathering systems. The proposed changes could have important ramifications for pipeline owners and operators, as well as the industries that utilize pipelines, specifically with regard to maximum allowable operating pressure and strength testing regulations among others. This second notice included PHMSA’s response to the 12 comments the agency received after issuing the first notice and request for comments on April 13, 2012. Comments on this second notice are due Oct. 22, 2012.
PHMSA is expanding the amount of information that is requested in the three forms to include the disclosure of additional information as required by Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 and recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board. This new information may be used to support future PHMSA rulemakings and determine pipeline operators’ progress in assessing the integrity of their pipeline systems. Based on the new information collected in these forms, PHMSA may modify regulations related to maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) and strength testing, among other regulations, which some commenters noted could result in multi-billion dollar infrastructure replacement and modification projects. Those in the pipeline industry may find it beneficial to submit comments to the second notice to ensure that PHMSA fully considers the structure and ramifications of these new reporting requirements.
Comments on the second notice should be directed to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the agency responsible for approving requests from PHMSA to change information collection forms. Comments are due to OMB by Oct. 22, 2012, and the docket number is PHMSA–2012–0024.
The following are highlights of the second notice and request for comments for each of the three report forms.
Gas Transmission and Gathering Systems-Annual Report
PHMSA has rejected comments it received to push back the proposed deadline of March 15, 2013 for pipeline owners to submit information regarding pipeline segments for which there are insufficient records to validate the maximum allowable operating pressure. Commenters suggested that the deadline be pushed back to July 2013, but PHMSA disagreed that more time was needed and therefore has retained the March 15, 2013 deadline.
In response to comments, PHMSA has clarified language in the report form and instructions related to 1) requests for operator contact information, 2) reporting of various commodity types being transported, 3) inter- and intrastate designations and pipelines on the outer continental shelf, 4) whether ‘‘replacement’’ and ‘‘abandonment’’ should be classifiable as reportable “repairs,” 5) how to report pipeline mileage, and 6) definitions related to when internal inspection of pipes is available, among other issues.
Gas Transmission Pipeline and Gathering Systems-Incident Report
Changes to this form are relatively minor. The primary changes include definitional edits and some additional sections collecting information about incidents involving girth welds. The few comments on the form changes focus on the definitional edits and were accepted by PHMSA.
Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Systems-Accident Report
Changes to this form are relatively minor. The main change was that PHMSA reinstated prior guidance on how and when shutdowns of pipeline facilities must be reported and removed confusing guidance on reporting pipeline failures or releases involving secondary ignition.