Control Room Management

On March 20, 2020, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Office of Pipeline Safety issued a Notice to gas and hazardous liquid pipeline, underground natural gas storage and liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility operators, as well as PHMSA state partners, explaining that it will stay enforcement of certain PHMSA pipeline safety requirements in light of the President’s March 13, 2020, Declaration of National Emergency relating to COVID-19. The Notice acknowledges that operators may have limited personnel resources in light of the COVID-19 National Emergency and may need to take actions to meet ongoing operational and maintenance needs in a manner that “may not fully meet federal operator qualification (OQ), control room management (CRM), and employment drug testing requirements.”

In light of these circumstances, the Notice explains that PHMSA “does not intend to take any enforcement action with regard to OQ and CRM requirements, and will consider exercising its enforcement discretion with regard to Part 199 drug testing requirements.”


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Almost four years after the Enbridge crude oil spill near Marshall, Michigan, PHMSA issued an Advisory Bulletin urging operators to evaluate their safety programs and implement changes to eliminate deficiencies identified by the NTSB’s investigation of the release.
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PHMSA has requested comments on an information collection request that it will submit for OMB renewal. Specifically, the Agency will request renewal and a three year term of approval for the following information collection (1) liquid and gas operators human factors management plan designed to reduce risk associated with human factors in the control room

Published on June 16, 2011, PHMSA’s final rule seeks to expedite the program implementation deadlines from those originally proposed. The deadline for operators to implement procedures regarding shift changes, roles and responsibilities, change management, operating experience, and fatigue mitigation is now October 1, 2011, sixteen months earlier than what was published in the proposed rule.

A new virus specifically aimed at SCADA systems has been discovered. The virus works on the Microsoft platform, and Siemens’ SCADA software appears particularly vulnerable. Pipeline operators are encouraged to contact Microsoft, or Siemens, for advice on investigation and fixes. The Department of Homeland Security encourages all operators of SCADA systems to be vigilant in