[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 62 (Friday, March 30, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 19414-19416]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-7729]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

[Docket ID PHMSA-2012-0021]


Pipeline Safety: Public Comment on Leak and Valve Studies 
Mandated by the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation 
Act of 2011

AGENCY: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), 
DOT.

ACTION: Notice of Public Comment.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Transportation (DOT), Pipeline and Hazardous 
Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is providing an important 
opportunity through this notice for all stakeholders to publically 
comment on the scope of recently commissioned studies involving leak 
detection systems and valves. This action and others described within 
this notice will support the comprehensive investigation of topics and 
issues Congress has charged to PHMSA.

DATES: PHMSA must have all comments submitted by close of business 
April 30, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Comments should reference Docket No. PHMSA-2012-0021 and may 
be submitted in the following ways:
     E-Gov Web Site: http://www.Regulations.gov. This site 
allows the public to enter comments on any Federal Register notice 
issued by any agency.
     Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
     Mail: DOT Docket Management System: U.S. DOT, Docket 
Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery: U.S. DOT Docket Management System; West 
Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC 20590-0001 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays.
    Instructions: You should identify the Docket No. PHMSA-2012-0021 at 
the beginning of your comments. If you submit your comments by mail, 
submit two copies. To receive confirmation that PHMSA received your 
comments, include a self-addressed stamped postcard. Internet users may 
submit comments at http://www.regulations.gov.

    Note:  Comments are posted without changes or edits to http://
www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. 
There is a privacy statement published on http://
www.regulations.gov.

    Any technically substantive comments received after the comment 
closing date will be considered to the extent practicable.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Contact Max Kieba at 202-493-0595 or 
Email: max.kieba@dot.gov for questions regarding the leak detection 
study. Contact Patrick Landon at 202-695-0798 or Email: 
patrick.landon@dot.gov for questions regarding the valve study.
    Background: The recent passage of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory 
Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 has called for several 
commissioned studies and reports to Congress that PHMSA must address 
and complete. Further, PHMSA is also evaluating how to address several 
concerns raised by recent National Transportation Safety Board 
recommendations.
    PHMSA has commissioned two studies to gather facts and perform 
technical, operational, and economical analyses about the constraints 
and implications for expanding the uses of leak detection systems and 
automatic and remote controlled valves. PHMSA believes that the scope 
of these studies should have a wide stakeholder review and input and 
seeks public input through two venues.
    First is the public workshop on Improving Pipeline Leak Detection 
System Effectiveness and Understanding the Application of Automatic/
Remote Control Valves on March 27-28, 2012. This workshop will examine 
how to encourage operators to expand usage of leak detection systems 
(LDS) and improve system effectiveness on the Nation's pipeline 
infrastructure and how remote control and automatic control valves can 
be installed to lessen the volume of natural gas and hazardous liquid 
released during catastrophic pipeline events. These public meetings are 
designed to provide an open forum for exchanging information on the 
challenges associated with LDS and automatic/remote control valves.
    Second is the opportunity for all stakeholders to publically 
comment on the scope of these two studies. This notice was designed to 
do just that. The following sections identify what Congress has 
mandated in these studies

[[Page 19415]]

and the scope of work PHMSA has factored into each study.

Leak Detection Study

    The Congress included the following language from the Act related 
to the leak detection study:

``SEC. 8. LEAK DETECTION.

    (a) LEAK DETECTION REPORT.--
    (1) IN GENERAL.--Not later than 1 year after the date of 
enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall submit 
to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the 
Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and 
the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives 
a report on leak detection systems utilized by operators of 
hazardous liquid pipeline facilities and transportation-related flow 
lines.
    (2) CONTENTS.--The report shall include--
    (A) An analysis of the technical limitations of current leak 
detection systems, including the ability of the systems to detect 
ruptures and small leaks that are ongoing or intermittent, and what 
can be done to foster development of better technologies; and
    (B) An analysis of the practicability of establishing 
technically, operationally, and economically feasible standards for 
the capability of such systems to detect leaks, and the safety 
benefits and adverse consequences of requiring operators to use leak 
detection systems.''

    PHMSA has commissioned a leak detection study containing the 
following work scope:

Task 1--Kickoff Meeting

    A kickoff meeting will be held via webinar or phone call to review 
the scope of the project.

Task 2--Attendance at Public Workshop

    The contractor will attend PHMSA's Improving Pipeline Leak 
Detection System Effectiveness Public Workshop on March 27, 2012. Any 
public input from that workshop will be considered for any potential 
modifications of the scope of work and when developing the final 
report.

Task 3--Review and Assess Previous Pipeline Incidents

    PHMSA will provide access to its pipeline incident data. The 
contractor will examine past pipeline incidents and consider any non-
PHMSA datasets that may provide useful insight and analysis to meet 
project objectives. This evaluation will help determine whether 
implementation of further leak detection capabilities would have 
mitigated effects to the public and surrounding environment. The 
contractor will use standard fire science practices to perform the risk 
analysis to property, public, and the environment. This evaluation will 
also help determine the level of protection needed for adequate 
mitigation.

Task 4--Technological Feasibility

    The contractor will compare all methods to determine whether 
current systems (or multiple systems) are able to adequately protect 
the public and the environment from pipeline leaks or incidents. The 
contractor is to look at legacy equipment currently utilized by 
operators, their ability to retrofit, and all benefits and drawbacks of 
all methods. The contractor is to consider the method/systems ability 
to detect small/intermittent leaks and identify and explain any 
technology gaps.

Task 5--Operational Feasibility

    The contractor will analyze leak detection methods and systems that 
are currently being used throughout the industry. This task includes 
defining and categorizing leak detection methods and systems that range 
from visual inspection techniques, instrumented monitoring of internal 
pipeline conditions, and external instrumentation for detecting leaked 
hydrocarbons. This task includes a view of how many operators are 
adequately protecting their infrastructure with leak detection systems, 
and an analysis of operational aspects (i.e. procedures, protocols, 
best practices, workforce, etc.). The contractor will consider 
reliability, availability and maintainability of system aspects and 
analyze how further leak detection methods/system deployment would 
affect pipeline operations.

Task 6--Economical Feasibility

    The contractor will perform a cost benefit analysis for deploying 
leak detection systems on new and existing pipeline systems. The cost 
benefit will determine the lifetime operational cost of the system and 
take into account the benefit that may be seen by the public and 
surrounding environment over the anticipated life cycle of the 
individual leak detection systems. The analysis will focus on the 
entire pipeline infrastructure with a separate analysis to include 
pipelines in high consequence areas (HCAs) only. Damage to surrounding 
environment/public must utilize standard fire science practices.

Task 7--Analyze Leak Detection Standards

    The contractor is to analyze the practicability of establishing 
technically, operationally, and economically feasible leak detection 
standards to provide adequate protection to the Nation against pipeline 
leaks, if such standards don't already exist. The analysis should be 
specific to the type of pipeline (gas distribution, gas transmission, 
hazardous liquid pipeline facilities, transportation-related flow 
lines, etc.) and consider pipeline locations (i.e., Class Locations, 
HCAs, non-HCAs, etc.).
    The deliverable from this study will embody the supporting 
information reported to Congress starting in December 2012, and will be 
publically available from PHMSA's Web site at http://www.phmsa.dot.gov/pipeline/library.

Automatic and Remote-Controlled Shut-Off Valves

    Congress included the following language from the Act related to 
the valve study:

``SEC. 4. AUTOMATIC AND REMOTE-CONTROLLED SHUT-OFF VALVES.

    Section 60102 is amended--
    (1) By striking subsection (j)(3); and
    (2) By adding at the end the following:
    (n) Automatic and Remote-Controlled Shut-OFF Valves for New 
Transmission Pipelines.--
    (1) IN GENERAL.--Not later than 2 years after the date of 
enactment of this subsection, and after considering the factors 
specified in subsection (b)(2), the Secretary, if appropriate, shall 
require by regulation the use of automatic or remote-controlled 
shut-off valves, or equivalent technology, where economically, 
technically, and operationally feasible on transmission pipeline 
facilities constructed or entirely replaced after the date on which 
the Secretary issues the final rule containing such requirement.
    (2) HIGH-CONSEQUENCE AREA STUDY.--
    (A) STUDY.--The Comptroller General of the United States shall 
conduct a study on the ability of transmission pipeline facility 
operators to respond to a hazardous liquid or gas release from a 
pipeline segment located in a high-consequence area.
    (B) CONSIDERATIONS.--In conducting the study, the Comptroller 
General shall consider the swiftness of leak detection and pipeline 
shutdown capabilities, the location of the nearest response 
personnel, and the costs, risks, and benefits of installing 
automatic and remote-controlled shut-off valves.
    (C) REPORT.--Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment 
of this subsection, the Comptroller General shall submit to the 
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Committee on 
Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives and the 
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate a 
report on the results of the study.''

    PHMSA has commissioned a study on the requirements of automatic and 
remote-controlled shut-off valves that cover natural gas and hazardous 
liquid lines containing the following work scope:

[[Page 19416]]

Task 1: Kickoff Meeting

    A kickoff meeting will be held via webinar or phone call to review 
the scope of the project.

Task 2: Attend Public Workshop

    The contractor will attend PHMSA's Understanding the Application of 
Automatic Control and Remote Control Valves public workshop on March 
28, 2012. The contractor will review and provide feedback on any result 
from the workshop. The feedback should be incorporated into the tasked 
studies. This can potentially lead to a modification of scope and costs 
if warranted

Task 3: Required Study on Automatic and Remote-Controlled Shut-off 
Valves on HCAs and Class 3 and Class 4 Areas on Natural Gas Pipelines

    The contractor will conduct a study on the ability of transmission 
pipeline facility operators to respond to a hazardous liquid or gas 
release from a pipeline segment located in a HCA. This study will 
evaluate Class 3 and Class 4 areas of natural gas transmission 
pipelines.
    The contractor must analyze the technical and operational ability 
of the swiftness of the existing leak detection system and the 
operator's capability to shut down the affected pipeline, and consider 
upstream and downstream controls, automation, supervisory control and 
data acquisition systems, and valve spacing. Also to be discussed are 
human factors of response, specifically, what is the minimum response 
time and the nearest required human to initiate isolation of the 
pipeline?
    The contractor must perform a cost benefit analysis for installing 
automatic and remote controlled shut-off valves in HCAs and for gas 
transmission Class 3 and Class 4 areas. The cost benefit must determine 
the lifetime operational cost of the system and take into account the 
benefit that may be seen by the public and surrounding environment. 
Analysis should include the economic impact of damage to surrounding 
environment/public and utilize standard fire science practices to 
derive the result.
    The contractor will perform a risk analysis of installing automatic 
and remote controlled shut-off valves as compared to local manual 
operation of isolation valves on transmission pipelines. The contractor 
will use standard fire science practices to perform the risk analysis 
that will analyze the risk to property, the public, and the 
environment.
    The contractor is to analyze and discuss the benefits to the public 
and the environment of a requirement to install automatic and remote 
controlled shut-off valves within HCAs and Class 3 and Class 4 areas.

Task 4: Required Study on Automatic and Remote Controlled Shut-Off 
Valves on Newly Constructed or Entirely Replaced Facilities

    The contractor is to study the use of automatic or remote 
controlled shut-off valves in newly- constructed and entirely replaced 
facilities constructed after January 2012. This study should address 
the economical, technical and operational feasibility of this 
requirement. The following points should be incorporated into the 
study.
Economic Feasibility
    The contractor will perform a cost benefit analysis for installing 
automatic and remote controlled shut-off valves on new and entirely 
replaced pipeline systems. This cost benefit will determine the 
lifetime operational cost of the system and take into account the 
benefit that may be seen by the public and surrounding environment over 
the anticipated life cycle of automatic and remote controlled shut-off 
valves installed. Analysis should include the economic impact of damage 
to the surrounding environment/public and utilize standard fire science 
practices to derive the result.
Technical Feasibility
    The contractor is to compare all types of automatic and remote 
controlled shut-off valves and determine whether available technologies 
can adequately protect the public and environment from pipeline leaks 
and incidents through rapid closure, and discuss benefits and drawbacks 
of all methods. Giving special consideration to the method/systems 
ability to detect and react to small/intermittent leaks, the contractor 
is to identify and explain any technology gaps and analyze any 
technological shortfalls specific to automatic shut-off valves' 
reliability. Modeling of rapid closure of valves will utilize standard 
fire science practices to establish benchmarks for technical 
feasibility. The contractor is also to determine if there are 
alternative technologies to automatic and remote controlled shut-off 
valves and investigate and explain these technologies.
Operational Feasibility
    The contractor will review and summarize DOT's current regulations 
addressing the installation of automatic and remote controlled shut-off 
valves. This review will be for hazardous liquid and natural gas 
pipelines and determine how operators are currently complying with 
them. The contractor will analyze operational aspects (i.e. procedures, 
protocols, best practices, workforce, etc.) and discuss reliability, 
availability and maintainability of these systems. The contractor will 
analyze how automatic and remote controlled shut-off valve installation 
would affect pipeline operations. Also, the contractor will consider 
how emergency first responders should be addressed in the operational 
feasibility study.

Task 5--Review and Assess Previous Pipeline Incidents

    PHMSA will provide access to pipeline incident data. The contractor 
will examine past pipeline incidents to determine whether installation 
of either automatic or remote controlled shut-off valves would have 
mitigated effects to the public and surrounding environment. The 
contractor will use standard fire science practices to perform the risk 
analysis to property, the public, and the environment.
    The deliverable from this study will embody the supporting 
information reported to Congress starting in December 2012, and will be 
publically available on PHMSA's Web site at http://www.phmsa.dot.gov/pipeline/library.
    Any individual or organization can submit comments on any of these 
commissioned studies. However, there are time constraints to reporting 
to Congress. In order to meet the time constraints, PHMSA must have all 
comments submitted by close of business April 30, 2012.
    Some key questions for your consideration are:
    Is PHMSA's commissioned work scope adequate for supporting a 
comprehensive report to Congress?
    If not, what additional or revised work scope actions should PHMSA 
consider?
    Is there a related technical report publically available that these 
studies should review?

    Dated: Issued in Washington, DC, on March 26, 2012.
Linda Daugherty,
Deputy Associate Administrator for Policy and Programs.
[FR Doc. 2012-7729 Filed 3-29-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-60-P