The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB or the Board) is initiating a new safety study regarding gas pipeline integrity management.  The NTSB has authority to investigate pipeline accidents that involve a fatality, substantial property damage or “significant injury to the environment.” 49 U.S.C. Section 1131(a)(1)(D).  The Board also has authority to initiate “safety studies” of pipelines (49 USC Section 1116(b), but it has only done that twice in the past in regard to pipelines.  See SCADA in Liquid Pipelines, NTSB/SS-05/02 (Nov. 29, 2005); Special Study of Effects of Delay in Shutting Down Failed Pipeline Systems and Methods of Providing Rapid Shutdown, NTSB-PSS-71-1 (Dec. 30, 1970).

Continue Reading NTSB Initiates Little Used “Safety Study” Authority for Pipelines

PHMSA recently announced a one day public workshop to discuss the development of a safety management system (SMS) national consensus standard for the pipeline industry. In the NTSB’s Investigation of the Marshall, Michigan incident, the agency stated that Enbridge’s centralized safety management system was deficient
Continue Reading Safety Management System Consensus Standard Public Workshop Announced

A recent string of oil train derailments has renewed focus on rail safety and boosted support for oil pipelines as a safer mode of transportation, potentially affecting the public’s perception of pipeline projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline, whose southern leg went into service on January 22, 2014 and whose northern leg was the subject of a relatively objective final supplemental Environmental Impact Statement from the Department of State, issued on January 31, 2014.
Continue Reading Rail Transport: A Riskier Proposition

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 spill response regulations when complying with Part 194.

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

PHMSA’s focus on shale activities extends beyond gathering and transmission lines; the Agency also regulates the transportation of hazardous materials, including crude, by rail.  In response to an unfortunate fatality derailment of a parked rail car containing Bakken crude oil that occurred over the summer in Quebec, and subsequent NTSB recommendations and industry petitions,

Under OPA 90, certain pipeline operators must prepare Facility Response Plans (FRPs), submit them to PHMSA, and review and revise them every five years (49 CFR Part 194). After the Deepwater Horizon incident, PHMSA reminded operators, among other things, to submit updates to their FRPs within thirty days if new or different operating conditions could

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;

In response to NTSB recommendations issued as a result of the San Bruno incident, PHMSA issued guidance on what it considers to be an effective integrity management (IM) performance evaluation process and program for measuring program effectiveness.  In addition, PHMSA IM inspections will emphasize review of operator IM performance metric methodology and confirm that operators

PHMSA will host a public meeting on the use of pipeline data in operator IMP programs on October 29 and 30, 2012 in Washington DC, which will also be available by webcast. Speakers at the meeting include Mark Rosekind of the NTSB, as well as representatives from PHMSA, NAPSR and the Pipeline Safety Trust. Click