Pipeline Law

Pipeline Law

Category Archives: Incident Response

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Legislative Action on Transportation and Energy Bills

Posted in Federal/ State Legislation, Incident Response, Infrastructure Security, Natural Gas, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy
Several legislative developments of significance to the pipeline and energy transportation industries are in progress, with the introduction of a bipartisan pipeline safety reauthorization bill in the House, the passage of a bipartisan energy bill in the Senate, and the passage of a bill in the Senate that provides for the use of drones to… Continue Reading

Emergency Approval Issued by DOT

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Administrative Rulemaking, Incident Response, Policy
At an emergency press conference held today by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced that DOT has issued a one-time approval for special operating authority to engage in air transportation to specified markets.  The approval will be limited in duration, valid only from the evening of December 24… Continue Reading

PHMSA Rail Transportation Rules Reflect Pressure to Act in the Face of Recent Oil Train Derailments

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Environmental, Incident Response, PHMSA
Under pressure from Congress, NTSB, and the public to take regulatory action in light of recent accidents involving oil trains, PHMSA finalized its regulations applicable to “High-Hazard Flammable Trains” in a Final Rule issued a mere nine months after it was proposed in an August 1, 2014 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.… Continue Reading

Advisory Regarding Damage to Pipelines from Flooding

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Incident Response, Integrity Management, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Public Awareness/ Community Relations
PHMSA issued an updated advisory regarding the potential for damage to pipeline facilities caused by severe flooding. Presumably prompted by the January 2015 release to the Yellowstone river in Glendive, Montana, associated with an area of exposed pipeline on the river bottom, the Agency reiterated the nine (9) actions it has set forth in prior advisories to prevent and mitigate damage to pipelines impacted by flooding. … Continue Reading

GAO Recommends that DOT Address Risks from Unregulated Gathering Pipelines

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Incident Response, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
In response to a request from Congress to study the impact of shale oil and gas development on transportation infrastructure and safety, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) recently published a report commenting on these developments and focusing on DOT’s response to address safety risks posed by rail and pipeline transportation. … Continue Reading

States Increasingly Active in Oil Spill Response and Pipeline Safety

Posted in Federal/ State Legislation, Incident Response, Pipeline Safety Act
In response to recent oil spills by rail and pipeline as well as a report by DOT’s Office of Inspector General criticizing PHMSA oversight of state pipeline safety programs, states are becoming increasingly active in oil spill response and oil transportation safety.  Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), state spill response regulations may… Continue Reading

Canada Proposes Strict Liability Rules for Oil Pipeline Releases

Posted in Environmental, Incident Response
Canada's Minister of Natural Resources recently announced measures to enhance the liability and accountability of pipeline companies for oil spills. The proposed measures, which have not yet been presented to the Canadian Parliament but are intended to become effective by 2017, introduce absolute liability for owners and operators of federally regulated pipelines. … Continue Reading

PHMSA Issues Advisory Bulletin Regarding 2010 Marshall, Michigan Release

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Control Room Management, Incident Response, Integrity Management, PHMSA, Public Awareness/ Community Relations
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. … Continue Reading

Oil Spill Facility Response Plan Advisory: Plans to be Made Public Increased Reliance on USCG Regulations

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Incident Response, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy
Amidst public scrutiny regarding onshore oil pipeline facility response plans (FRPs) and an outstanding statutory mandate to make those plans public, PHMSA issued an Advisory Bulletin regarding FRP requirements at 49 CFR Part 194.  In the Advisory, PHMSA confirms that it will make FRPs publicly available and recommends that operators consider U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) oil… Continue Reading

PHMSA issues Advisory regarding Telephonic Reporting

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Incident Response, PHMSA, Reporting Obligations
PHMSA issued an Advisory Bulletin regarding telephonic reporting to the National Response Center (NRC). 78 Fed. Reg. 6402 (January 30, 2013). The Advisory notes that existing pipeline safety regulations under 49 C.F.R. Parts 191.5 and 195.52 require gas, liquid and LNG operators to report incidents to the NRC at the earliest practicable opportunity, “usually one-to-two… Continue Reading

Senate Commerce Committee Field Hearing Regarding Pipeline Safety

Posted in Incident Response, Integrity Management, PHMSA, Policy, Reporting Obligations
In the wake of last month’s incident in Sissonville, West Virginia, Senator Rockefeller hosted a Senate Commerce Committee field hearing in Charleston, West Virginia to review pipeline safety. The witnesses included: (1) Sissonville resident Sue Bonham who lost her home; (2) NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman; (3) PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman; (4) Susan Fleming of GAO;… Continue Reading

GAO Releases Report Regarding Pipeline Operator Responses to Incidents in HCAs

Posted in Incident Response, Integrity Management, PHMSA, Reporting Obligations
As required by the 2012 amendments to the Pipeline Safety Act, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) released a report examining the ability of transmission pipeline operators to respond to releases in high consequence areas (HCAs). The report titled, “Better Data and Guidance Needed to Improve Pipeline Operator Incident Response,” concludes that (1) DOT should improve… Continue Reading

PHMSA Issues Advisory Regarding Communications During Emergency Situations

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Incident Response, PHMSA, Reporting Obligations
In response to NTSB Safety Recommendation P-11-9 issued as a result of the Agency’s San Bruno investigation, PHMSA published an Advisory Bulletin reminding operators of their responsibility to notify local first responders (identified as Public Safety Access Point or PSAP) when there are indications of a pipeline facility emergency. Consistent with the requirements under 49… Continue Reading

NTSB Releases Additional Documents Regarding Enbridge Michigan Oil Spill

Posted in Incident Response, PHMSA, Policy
Over the past two months and most recently on June 22, 2012, the NTSB has released research documents, timelines, pictures and factual reports regarding its investigation of an Enbridge pipeline failure on July 26, 2010 that led to the release of over 800,000 gallons of crude oil to various waters near Marshall, Michigan. The docket presently… Continue Reading