Several Congressional deadlines for PHMSA, under the Pipeline Safety Act amendments (PSA), effective on Jan. 3, 2012, are due. By July 3, 2013, PHMSA was directed to:
(1) evaluate whether to expand integrity management requirements beyond high consequence areas (HCAs) and whether this may mitigate the need for class location requirements for gas transmission lines (Section 5 of PSA); (2) issue guidance to operators on how to provide information about their systems to local emergency response authorities (Section 6 of PSA); (3) revise existing release reporting regulations at Part 195.52 (liquid lines) and Part 191.5 (gas lines), to address timeliness of reporting (Section 9 of PSA); (4) complete a review of the risks of transporting diluted bitumen, and conclude whether existing regulations are sufficient (Section 16 of PSA); and (5) issue regulations for the testing of natural gas transmission lines in HCAs that are operated at > 30% SMYS (Section 23 of PSA).
The Agency likely believes it has satisfied the first two obligations through its integrity management Advanced Notices of Proposed Rulemaking and its Advisory Bulletin ADB-12-10 and as to local emergency responder communication through its ongoing outreach program for emergency responders and Advisory Bulletin ADB-12-09. With regard to the third item (reporting regulations), PHMSA issued Advisory Bulletin ADB-13-01 in January 2013, noting that it will issue a proposed rule “at a later date” revising telephonic reporting regulations to require specific time limits, while encouraging operators to report accidents and incidents within one hour of “confirmed discovery.” On June 25, 2013 the diluted bitumen study commissioned by the Agency concluded that the oil poses no new risks to pipelines (see prior posting). Lastly, the Agency has not yet signaled its position with regard to HCA testing regulations (item 5 above).