U.S. DOT Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Rulemaking Report - Weekly Compliance Digest

August 25, 2017

In this edition of the Weekly Compliance Digest, we share an update provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on rulemakings by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Report on DOT Significant Rulemakings – Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

On August 18, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the return of its monthly public Significant Rulemaking Report. The August 2017 Significant Rulemaking Report provides a summary and status for all significant rulemakings that DOT currently has pending or has issued recently.

The report lists the status of 104 rulemakings by the DOT. In this post, we focus on the main rulemakings from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which is a DOT agency. Of the nine rulemakings, two are about seeking comments (entries #100 and #104), therefore this post will cover seven PHMSA rulemakings.

Pipeline Safety: Safety of Hazardous Liquid Pipelines

In recent years, there have been significant hazardous liquid pipeline accidents. In response to accident investigation findings, incident report data and trends, and stakeholder input, PHMSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register on October 13, 2015. Previously, Congress had enacted the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act that included several provisions that are relevant to the regulation of hazardous liquid pipelines. In this rulemaking action, PHMSA is amending the Pipeline Safety Regulations to improve protection of the public, property, and the environment by closing regulatory gaps where appropriate, and ensuring that operators are increasing the detection and remediation of unsafe conditions, and mitigating the adverse effects of hazardous liquid pipeline failures.

Docket Number: PHMSA-2010-0229

Status: Final Rule projected to be published on December 29, 2017

Pipeline Safety: Gas Transmission (RRR)

PHMSA is amending the pipeline safety regulations to address integrity management principles for Gas Transmission pipelines. In particular, PHMSA is addressing repair criteria for both HCA and non-HCA areas, assessment methods, validating and integrating pipeline data, risk assessments, knowledge gained through the IM program, corrosion control, change management, gathering lines, and safety features on launchers and receivers.

Docket Number: PHMSA-2011-0023

Status: Undetermined. This rulemaking is either halted or delayed.

Hazardous Materials: Oil Spill Response Plans and Information Sharing for High-Hazard Flammable Trains

In this rulemaking, PHMSA would adopt a number of measures that will ensure the safety of communities living alongside railroads and protect the environment by codifying: (1) Comprehensive Oil Spill Response Plans (OSRPs) – Expands the applicability of comprehensive OSRPs based on thresholds of liquid petroleum oil that apply to an entire train consist; (2) HHFT Information Sharing Notification – Requires railroads to share information about high-hazard flammable train operations with state and tribal emergency response commissions to improve community preparedness in accordance with the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015 (FAST Act); and (3) Incorporation by Reference of Class 3 Packing Group Test – Incorporates by reference an initial boiling point test for flammable liquids for better consistency with the ANSI/API Recommend Practices 3000, “Classifying and Loading of Crude Oil into Rail Tank Cars”.

Docket Number: PHMSA-2014-0105

Status: Final Rule projected to be published on April 11, 2018

Hazardous Materials: Enhanced Safety Provisions for Lithium Batteries Transported by Aircraft

This rulemaking action would amend the Hazardous Materials Regulations applicable to the transport of lithium cells and batteries by aircraft. The IFR contains three amendments: (1) a prohibition on the transport of lithium ion cells and batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft; (2) a requirement that lithium ion cells and batteries be shipped at not more than a 30 percent state of charge aboard cargo-only aircraft; and (3) a limitation on the use of alternative provisions for small lithium cell or battery shipments to one package per consignment or overpack.

Docket Number: PHMSA-2016-0014

Status: Final Rule projected to be published on January 29, 2018

Pipeline Safety: Underground Storage Facilities for Natural Gas

PHMSA has safety authority over the underground storage facilities used in natural gas pipeline transportation, but has no safety regulations in the DOT Code (49 CFR Part 192) that apply to the down-hole underground storage reservoir for natural gas. PHMSA issued an interim final rule that requires operators of underground storage facilities for natural gas to comply with minimum safety standards, including compliance with API RP 1171, Functional Integrity of Natural Gas Storage in Depleted Hydrocarbon Reservoirs and Aquifer Reservoirs, and API RP 1170, Design and Operation of Solution-mined Salt Caverns Used for Natural Gas Storage. The interim final rule adopted the non-mandatory provisions of the RPs in a manner that would make them mandatory, except that operators are permitted to deviate from the RPs if they provide justification. The next planned action is to finalize the interim final rule.

Docket Number: PHMSA-2016-0023

Status: Final Rule projected to be published on January 31, 2018

Hazardous Materials: Vapor Pressure of Unrefined Petroleum Products and Class 3 Materials

In this rulemaking, PHMSA is assessing the merits of a petition for rulemaking submitted by the Attorney General of the State of New York regarding vapor pressure standards for the transportation of crude oil. The petition requests that PHMSA implement a Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) limit less than 9.0 pounds per square inch (psi) for crude oil transported by rail. PHMSA will use the comments in response to this ANPRM to help assess and respond to the petition and to evaluate any other potential regulatory actions related to sampling and testing of crude oil and other Class 3 hazardous materials. PHMSA will also evaluate the potential safety benefits and costs of utilizing vapor pressure thresholds within the hazardous materials classification process for unrefined petroleum-based products and Class 3 hazardous materials.

Docket Number: PHMSA-2016-0077

Status: Undetermined. This rulemaking is either halted or delayed.

Hazardous Materials: Sampling and Testing Requirements for Unrefined Petroleum Products

This rulemaking considered revising the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to apply particular methods for conducting vapor pressure testing and sampling of unrefined petroleum-based products, such as petroleum crude oil. Specifically, this rulemaking would have proposed that persons who offer unrefined petroleum-based products for transportation, regardless of mode of transportation, apply particular methods for conducting vapor pressure testing when vapor pressure testing is a component of their written testing program. However, after a thorough review of the issues, PHMSA decided to terminate this rulemaking action.

Docket Number: N/A

Status: Terminated on March 13, 2017.

It’s worth noting that the information in the Report is not intended to commit DOT to specific conclusions or actions, therefore the four projected dates in this post for the publication of final rules may change. See pages 101-109 of the full Report for more details.

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Oil & Gas Spotlight: Addressing 2016 EHS Challenges with Operational Data