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At 5:26 a.m., mountain daylight time, on Saturday, August 19, 2000, a 30-inch-diameter natural gas transmission pipeline operated by El Paso Natural Gas Company (EPNG) ruptured adjacent to the Pecos River near Carlsbad, New Mexico. The released gas ignited and burned for 55 minutes. Twelve persons who were camping under a concrete-decked steel bridge that supported the pipeline across the river were killed and their three vehicles destroyed. Two nearby steel suspension bridges for gas pipelines crossing the river were extensively damaged. According to EPNG, property and other damages or losses totaled $998,296.
The National Transportation Safety Board makes the following safety recommendations to the Research and Special Programs Administration: Develop the requirements necessary to ensure that pipeline operators’ internal corrosion control programs address the role of water and other contaminants in the corrosion process.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Action
Carlsbad, NM, United States
Natural Gas Pipeline Rupture and Fire
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
RSPA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Safety Recommendation History
Letter Mail Controlled 6/6/2005 1:51:27 PM MC# 2050240
The Safety Board notes that in 2003, RSPA published a final rule on gas integrity management that will address the role of water and other contaminants in the internal corrosion process and the procedures for prevention, inspection, and repair. The rule requires operators using direct assessment to follow the requirement in standard ASME/ANSI B31.8S, Appendix SP-B2. Because the final rule satisfies the recommendation, Safety Recommendation P-03-2 is classified "Closed--Acceptable Action."
Letter Mail Controlled 2/27/2004 1:29:08 PM MC# 2040095 Actions: 12/03 - Final Rule revising HCA definition and requiring IMP for gas transmission pipelines in HCAs (68 FR 69778). Even before this recommendation was issued, RSPA/OPS had issued an advisory bulletin on internal corrosion in gas transmission pipelines (September 5,200O; 65 FR 53803) that urged operators to review their internal corrosion monitoring programs and consider factors that influence the formation of corrosion, including gas quality, operating parameters, and pipeline profile. The advisory bulletin also suggested that operators review internal corrosion testing procedures through the use of coupons, radiography, water chemistry tests, in-line inspection tools, and electrical and hydrogen probes. The advisory bulletin noted that internal corrosion can be aggravated by flow characteristics, temperature, pressure, presence of oxygen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and the presence of drips and sags that cannot be cleaned. Pipeline areas that require close attention for internal corrosion formation were cited as pipe downstream of storage facilities, low spots, sharp bends, diameter changes, and fittings that restrict flow. After the RSPA/OPS issuance of this advisory bulletin, RSPA/OPS encouraged the Gas Piping Technology Committee (GPTC) to establish an ad hoc committee to review the guide material on internal corrosion under Sections 192.479 and 192.477. GPTC is a standards committee that develops and publishes the widely used Guide for Gas Transmission and Distribution Piping Systems. The Guide provides commentaries on each of the sections of the gas piping regulations (49 CFR Part 192) to help pipeline companies comply with the regulations. The draft document contained suggestions for the prevention and mitigation of internal corrosion, including sections on design considerations, detection methods, inspection frequency, and technical references. It was published on November 1, 2003. RSPA/OPS is also working with NACE International to develop standards addressing internal corrosion. We encouraged NACE International to develop an internal corrosion-training course. The first course (NACE Course 03C41404) was presented in November 2003 to RSPA/OPS and state pipeline safety program inspectors. The course addresses types of internal corrosion, environmental variables, sampling and field testing, direct examination, coupons and electric probes, laboratory analysis, mitigation and monitoring methods, and integrity assessment. On December 15, 2003, RSPA/OPS published a final rule requiring gas pipeline operators to develop integrity management programs for transmission pipelines that could impact high consequence areas (HCAs) and to apply lessons learned in these programs to the entire pipeline as needed (68 FR 69778). The rule requires that operators determine the threats to which their pipelines are susceptible, including internal corrosion. The rule requires that operators use risk assessment techniques from ASME B31.8S, Supplement to B31.8 on Managing System Integrity of Gas Pipelines, to evaluate the remainder of the pipeline to determine whether a full assessment and inspection is warranted. The rule allows use of direct assessment as a method for periodically evaluating the integrity of gas transmission pipelines. Operators using direct assessment are required to follow NACE Recommended Practice 0502-2002, and relevant provisions in ASME/ANSI B31.8S. These standards were developed with contributions from RSPA/OPS, the pipeline industry, and state pipeline regulators. The gas integrity management rule introduces the concept of internal corrosion direct assessment (ICDA), which is an assessment process that identities areas along the pipeline where water and other contaminants may reside and then focuses direct examination on the locations where internal corrosion is most likely to exist. RSPA/OPS has worked with NACE International to develop ICDA procedures. The ICDA methods can be used to assess internal corrosion in pipelines. These methods are also applicable to pipelines that normally carry dry gas but may be subject to occasional accumulations of water and other electrolytes. The goal of the approach is to determine if internal corrosion is likely to exist at a particular location along a pipeline, The enforcement protocols for the gas integrity management rule will provide inspectors with detailed approaches to inspection of operator programs to ensure that the role of water and other contaminants on the internal corrosion process is fully addressed in pipeline operations and maintenance. RSPA requests P-03-2 be classified "CLOSED - Acceptable Response."
The Safety Board notes that in late 2003, RSPA intends to publish a final rule on gas integrity management that will address the role of water and other contaminants in the internal corrosion process and the procedures for prevention, inspection, and repair. The rule will require operators using direct assessment to follow the requirement in standard ASME/ANSI B31.8S, Appendix SP-B2. Pending publication of the final rule as described, Safety Recommendation P-03-2 is classified "Open--Acceptable Response."
Letter Mail Controlled 9/3/2003 2:08:46 PM MC# 2030445 By the end of 2003, we will request closure of Recommendation P-03-2 based on publication of the final rule on gas integrity management, which will address the role of water and other contaminants in the internal corrosion process and the procedures for prevention, inspection, and repair. The rule will require operators using direct assessment to follow the requirement in standard ASMEIANSI B3 1.8S, Appendix SP-B2, which was developed with contributions from RSPA/OPS, the pipeline industry, and the state pipeline safety programs.
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