Notation 8360: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), “Pipeline Safety: Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines,” that was published in the Federal Register on August 25, 2011.
PHMSA is considering whether changes to the regulations governing the safety of gas transmission pipelines are needed, and is inviting comments on 14 specific topic areas in 2 broad categories—integrity management-related requirements and nonintegrity management requirements. In the area of integrity management, PHMSA is seeking comments and information about revising the definition of high consequence areas (HCA), including more prescriptive language, and placing additional restrictions on the use of specific pipeline assessment methods. In the nonintegrity management area, PHMSA is seeking information and comments about strengthening or expanding requirements for the spacing of mainline valves; installation of remotely operated or automatically operated valves; and corrosion control of steel pipelines, gas gathering lines, and underground gas storage facilities.
The NTSB believes that the regulations for gas transmission pipelines can and should be improved and supports the overall intent of the ANPRM. However, the publication of the ANPRM 5 days before the NTSB public meeting on the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) natural gas transmission pipeline rupture in San Bruno, California, precluded any mention in the ANPRM of the safety recommendations the NTSB adopted at the public meeting held on August 30, 2011, and issued on September 26, 2011.
As a result of the Board Meeting, the NTSB issued 13 safety recommendations (P-11-8 through P-11-20) to PHMSA to improve the safety of natural gas transmission pipelines. The NTSB believes PHMSA should seek comments and information related to its safety recommendations to PHMSA issued as a result of the San Bruno investigation to take certain regulatory actions.
In the ANPRM, PHMSA is also seeking information that would be relevant to Safety Recommendation P-93-9 the NTSB issued as a result of its accident investigation of an explosion and fire of a natural gas pipeline from a salt dome storage cavern in Brenham, Texas, on April 7, 1992. The accident resulted in 3 fatalities and 21 injuries. Safety Recommendation P-93-9 was classified “Closed—Unacceptable Action” on July 27, 1998, after a rulemaking proceeding to regulate underground gas storage was terminated in 1997. The NTSB supports PHMSA’s intention to reconsider regulating underground gas storage and is pleased PHMSA is revisiting this issue by seeking information and comment in this ANPRM.
In support of our position, the NTSB is providing the following table listing the NTSB’s responses (that is, previously issued safety recommendations) to certain specific questions posed by PHMSA in the ANPRM:
ANPRM Questions NTSB’s Responses
K.1. Should PHMSA develop Federal standards governing the safety of underground gas storage facilities? If so, should they be voluntary? If so, what portions of the facilities should be addressed in these standards?
Develop safety requirements for storage of highly volatile liquids and natural gas in underground facilities, including a requirement that all pipeline operators perform safety analyses of new and existing underground geologic storage systems to identify potential failures, determine the likelihood that each failure will occur, and assess the feasibility of reducing the risk; require that operators incorporate all feasible improvements. (P-93-9)
K.6. What standards are used for emergency shutdowns, emergency shutdown stations, gas monitors, local emergency response communications, public communications, and O&M Procedures?
Require operators of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines and hazardous liquid pipelines to provide system-specific information about their pipeline systems to the emergency response agencies of the communities and jurisdictions in which those pipelines are located. This information should include pipe diameter, operating pressure, product transported, and potential impact radius. (P-11-8)
L.1. Are there standards used by the pipeline industry to guide management processes including management of change? Do standards governing the management of change process include requirements for IM procedures, O&M manuals, facility drawings, emergency response plans and procedures, and documents required to be maintained for the life of the pipeline?
Require operators of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines and hazardous liquid pipelines to ensure that their control room operators immediately and directly notify the 911 emergency call center(s) for the communities and jurisdictions in which those pipelines are located when a possible rupture of any pipeline is indicated. (P-11-9)
ANPRM Questions NTSB’s Responses
B.4. What measures, if any, should operators be required explicitly to implement? Should they apply to all HCAs, or is there some reasonable basis for tailoring explicit mandates to particular HCAs? Should additional preventative and mitigative measures include any or all of the following: Additional line markers (line-of-sight); depth of cover surveys; close interval surveys for cathodic protection (CP) verification; coating surveys and recoating to help maintain CP current to pipe; additional right-of-way patrols; shorter ILI run intervals; additional gas quality monitoring, sampling, and in-line inspection tool runs; and improved standards for marking pipelines for operator construction and maintenance and one-calls?
Require that all operators of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines equip their supervisory control and data acquisition systems with tools to assist in recognizing and pinpointing the location of leaks, including line breaks; such tools could include a real-time leak detection system and appropriately spaced flow and pressure transmitters along covered transmission lines. (P-11-10)
Amend Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 192.935(c) to directly require that automatic shutoff valves or remote control valves in high consequence areas and in class 3 and 4 locations be installed and spaced at intervals that consider the factors listed in that regulation. (P-11-11)
M.4. Are there any standards that exist that PHMSA could adopt or from which PHMSA could adapt concepts for Quality Management System (QMS)?
Amend Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 199.105 and 49 Code of Federal Regulations 199.225 to eliminate operator discretion with regard to testing of covered employees. The revised language should require drug and
alcohol testing of each employee whose performance either contributed to the accident or cannot be completely discounted as a contributing factor to the accident.
Issue immediate guidance clarifying the need to conduct postaccident drug and alcohol testing of all potentially involved personnel despite uncertainty about the circumstances of the accident. (P-11-13)
N.2. Should PHMSA repeal the MAOP exemption for pre-1970 pipelines? Should pre-1970 pipelines that operate above 72% SMYS be allowed to continue to be operated at these levels without increased safety evaluations such as periodic pressure tests, in-line inspections, coating examination, CP surveys, and expanded requirements on interference currents and depth of cover maintenance?
N.3. Should PHMSA take any other actions with respect to exempt pipelines?
Amend Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 192.619 to delete the grandfather clause and require that all gas transmission pipelines constructed before 1970 be subjected to a hydrostatic pressure test that incorporates a spike test. (P-11-14)
G.9. Should a one-time pressure test be required to address manufacturing and construction defects?
Amend Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 192 of the Federal pipeline safety regulations so that manufacturing- and construction-related defects can only be considered stable if a gas pipeline has been subjected to a postconstruction hydrostatic pressure test of at least 1.25 times the maximum allowable operating pressure.
ANPRM Questions NTSB’s Responses
C.7. Should PHMSA adopt standards for conducting in-line inspections using ‘‘smart pigs,’’ the qualification of persons interpreting in-line inspection data, the review of ILI results including the integration of other data sources in interpreting ILI results, and/or the quality and accuracy of in-line inspection tool performance, to gain a greater level of assurance that injurious pipeline defects are discovered? Should these standards be voluntary or adopted as requirements?
Require that all natural gas transmission pipelines be configured so as to accommodate in-line inspection tools, with priority given to older pipelines. (P-11-17)
B.3. Are any additional prescriptive requirements needed to improve selection and implementation decisions? If so, what are they and why?
Revise your integrity management inspection protocol to (1) incorporate a review of meaningful metrics; (2) require auditors to verify that the operator has a procedure in place for ensuring the completeness and accuracy of underlying information; (3) require auditors to review all integrity management performance measures reported to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and compare the leak, failure, and incident measures to the operator’s risk model; and (4) require setting performance goals for pipeline operators at each audit and follow up on those goals at subsequent audits. (P-11-18)
(1) Develop and implement standards for integrity management and other performance-based safety programs that require operators of all types of pipeline systems to regularly assess the effectiveness of their programs using clear and meaningful metrics, and to identify and then correct deficiencies; and (2) make those metrics available in a centralized database. (P-11-19)
A.7. What, if any, input and/or oversight should the general public and/or local communities provide in the identification of HCAs? If commenters believe that the public or local communities should provide input and/or oversight, how should PHMSA gather information and interface with these entities? If commenters believe that the public or local communities should provide input and/or oversight, what type of information should be provided and should it be voluntary to do so? If commenters believe that the public or local communities should provide input, what would be the burden entailed in providing provide this information? Should state and local governments should be involved in the HCA identification and oversight process? If commenters believe that state and local governments be involved in the HCA identification and oversight process what would the nature of this involvement be?
Work with state public utility commissions to (1) implement oversight programs that employ meaningful metrics to assess the effectiveness of their oversight programs and make those metrics available in a centralized database, and (2) identify and then correct deficiencies in those programs. (P-11-20)
The NTSB appreciates the opportunity to comment on this ANPRM. Should you require additional information or clarification, please contact us.