Underground Construction - June 2022 - 14

WASHINGTONWATCH
After more than a decade of considering whether pipelines
should install automatic shut-off valves, the Pipeline &
Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued
a final rule, although it fell short of what the National
Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wanted to see.
It was the NTSB that had repeatedly asked PHMSA over
the past decade to impose shut-off valve requirements, starting
after its investigation of the PG&E Sept. 9, 2010, accident in
San Bruno, Calif., when a gas transmission pipeline ruptured,
causing an explosion that killed eight people.
The NTSB made recommendations after its investigation
and the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty and Job Creation
Act of 2011 required PHMSA to issue regulations requiring the
use of automatic shut-off valves (ASV) or RCVs, or equivalent
technology, on newly constructed or replaced gas transmission
and hazardous liquid pipeline facilities.
Eleven years later, the new PHMSA regulation affects most
newly constructed and entirely replaced onshore gas transmission,
Type A gas gathering, and hazardous liquid pipelines, with
diameters of six inches or greater, after April 10, 2023.
Eleven years in the making
The pipeline industry has appeared to have won most of the regulatory
battles it fought over the past decade, as this regulation
slowly progressed through PHMSA.
" Safety is our top priority, and we are glad to see that PHMSA
listened to industry's input when finalizing the requirements
that allow for faster response and help minimize the risk to the
communities our members serve, " said Christina Sames, AGA's
senior vice president of Safety, Operations and Security.
" The changes within the final regulation continue to help
move the needle on safety, while ensuring AGA's members are
maintaining reliable and affordable natural gas service, "
The NTSB and the Pipeline Safety Trust wanted PHMSA to
apply the rule to existing pipelines, which the agency did not do.
The final rule also falls short in other ways.
" PHMSA's final rule does not meet the criteria specified in
NTSB safety recommendations regarding valve and rupture
detection completely, " said NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy. " I
encourage PHMSA to continue their efforts to address the identified
issues from our investigation of the San Bruno, Cali., natural
gas explosion and satisfy the NTSB safety recommendations. "
PHMSA acknowledged that the application of the rule to
existing pipelines was included in the NTSB recommendations,
but such a change is beyond the scope of what it could authorize
within the current regulations. PHMSA hinted it could go that
route in the future, but such " an expansion may merit additional
process (e.g., a supplemental notice and solicitation of addi14
JUNE 2022 | UCONonline.com
Stephen Barlas | Washington, D.C. Editor
PHMSA Finalizes New Remote
Valve Requirements
tional comments), imposing a substantial delay to a rule that is
already 11 years in the making.
" Further, application of the rule's rupture-mitigation valves
(RMV) and alternative equivalent technology installation
requirements to existing pipeline infrastructure would entail
installation activity (e.g., blowdowns of existing pipelines prior
to replacement, and work in pipeline rights-of-way) that could
involve significant GHG emissions and other potential environmental
harms. "
In the regulation, PHMSA requires operators to install
RMVs (i.e., remote-control, or automatic shut-off, valves) or alternative
equivalent technologies. It also establishes minimum
performance standards for those valves' operation to prevent
or mitigate the public safety and environmental consequences
of pipeline ruptures. The final rule sets requirements for RMV
spacing, maintenance and inspection, and risk analysis.
Final rule
One of the issues that surfaced after PHMSA proposed explicit
language in 2020, as part of its proposed rule, was the definition
of what constituted a " newly replaced " pipeline.
Trade groups, including the Interstate Natural Gas
Association of America (INGAA), the American Petroleum
Institute (API) and American Gas Association (AGA), pressed
for a definition, which PHMSA adopted in the final rule. It stated
that an " entirely replaced " pipeline is one that has two or
more miles being replaced with new pipe within any stretch of
five contiguous miles within any 24-month period.
PHMSA also adopted language proposed by the gas groups,
specifying for gas transmission and Type A gas gathering pipelines,
that the RMV or alternative equivalent technology installation
requirements will not apply if the pipeline segment is in
a Class 1 or Class 2 location and has a potential impact radius
(PIR) less than or equal to 150 feet.
This final rule also establishes federal minimum safety performance
standards for the identification of ruptures, pipeline
segment isolation and other mitigative actions, for pipelines on
which RMVs or alternative equivalent technology are installed.
Relevant new requirements include: a definition of the term
" notification of potential rupture " to identify signs of an uncontrolled
release of a large volume of commodity observed by, or
reported to, the operator. INGAA questioned parts of the definition,
some of which were accommodated by PHMSA changes.
But a second, objectionable, part of that definition stayed: a
10-percent-pressure-loss-within-15-minutes threshold. PHMSA
agreed to cushion the definition by permitting operators to
document in their written procedures the need for alternative
pressure-loss-rate thresholds, due to the unique pipeline flow
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Underground Construction - June 2022

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Contents
Underground Construction - June 2022 - Cover1
Underground Construction - June 2022 - Cover2
Underground Construction - June 2022 - Contents
Underground Construction - June 2022 - 4
Underground Construction - June 2022 - 5
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Underground Construction - June 2022 - Cover3
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