Control Room Management

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA or the Agency) will publish a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM or Notice) in tomorrow’s Federal Register.  A pre-publication version of the NPRM is available here.  Comments on this proposed rulemaking will be due 60 days Federal Register publication, i.e. by September 8, 2015.  This Notice responds to directives from Congress in Sections 9 and 13 of the most recent (2011) amendments to the Pipeline Safety Act (PSA), which became effective January 3, 2012.  The PSA amendments gave the Agency one year to propose new rules (or by January of 2013).  This NPRM is thus more than two years overdue, although both Congress and other entities have been pressing the Agency to address these and other issues more promptly and comprehensively.

Continue Reading PHMSA Issues Expansive Proposed Rulemaking

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.  PHMSA specifically directs operators to review integrity management programs, control center operations and public awareness plans, as recommended by the NTSB’s 2012 Pipeline Accident Report for the Marshall incident.

Continue Reading PHMSA Issues Advisory Bulletin Regarding 2010 Marshall, Michigan Release

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 and (2) gas distribution operators integrity management (IM) plan and to maintain records demonstrating compliance with IM requirements for 10 years, including superseded IM plans. Comments are due by October 26, 2012. Click here for the FR Notice.

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. The deadline for other procedures, including maximum hours-of-service and alarm management, is now August 1, 2012. Click here for the final 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 securing their systems from these kind of attacks.