PHMSA Clarifies New Rules on Pipeline Operational Status

PHMSA on Monday posted an advisory bulletin that clarifies new rules relating to pipeline operational status, tightening controls on pipeline operators.

As noted in the PIPES Act of 2016, PHMSA is clarifying new rules that target abandon pipelines that formerly carried hazardous liquid, carbon dioxide, and gas. Before abandoning a pipeline, the owner or operator must “purge all combustibles and seal any facilities left in place,” according to the statement.

PHMSA regulations define “abandoned” to mean permanently removed from service. If a pipeline is not properly abandoned and may be used in the future for transportation of hazardous liquid or gas, PHMSA regulations consider it as an active pipeline, according to the statement.

"Owners and operators of pipelines that are not operating but contain hazardous liquids and gas must comply with all applicable safety requirements, including periodic maintenance, integrity management assessments, damage prevention programs, response planning, and public awareness programs."

PHMSA said it is considering proposing procedures in a future rulemaking that would address methods operators could use to notify regulators of purged but active pipelines.

"To the extent feasible, owners and operators have a responsibility to assure facilities for which they are responsible or last owned do not present a hazard to people, property or the environment,” the agency wrote in its advisory bulletin.

The issuance goes into effect immediately.

Federal Register