Safety Regime Extended to Rural, Low-Stress Pipelines

After Oct. 1, all such hazardous liquid pipelines will be covered by the 49 CFR part 195 safety regulations.

PHMSA published a final rule amending its pipeline safety regulations to apply the regulatory scheme to rural low-stress hazardous liquid pipelines that were not previously covered.

This change complies with a mandate in the Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Enforcement, and Safety Act of 2006 (PIPES Act) and will take effect Oct. 1, 2011.

Until 2008, a hazardous liquid pipeline operating at low-stress in a rural area was not regulated under Federal pipeline safety regulations in 49 CFR part 195 unless it crossed a commercially navigable waterway. Section 195.2 defines a "rural area" as one outside the limits of any incorporated or unincorporated city, town, village, or any other designated residential or commercial area, such as a subdivision, a business or shopping center, or community development.

PHMSA said it decided to implement the PIPES Act in phases partly because it didn't have complete data on the extent of rural low-stress pipelines that would be covered. Phase one, a final rule published in June 2008, applied full Part 195 regulation to higher-risk, larger-diameter, rural low-stress pipelines (low-stress pipelines with a diameter of 8 5/8 inches or more within a half mile of an unusually sensitive area. Phase two was applying Part 195 safety requirements to all other rural low-stress pipelines, which the agency undertook with an NPRM in June 2010.

Section 195.452 sets integrity management requirements for hazardous liquid pipelines. This section requires operators to take additional actions for each pipeline segment that could affect a high consequence area -- a populated area, commercially navigable waterway, or unusually sensitive area. Operators of the pipelines must consider how leaked liquids could move via nearby waterways, including such factors as seasonal variations in flow, the effect of stream turbulence, and their ability to respond to a release and contain further transport of spilled product.

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