[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 88 (Monday, May 7, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 26822-26824]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-10866]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

[Docket No. PHMSA-2012-0068]


Pipeline Safety: Verification of Records

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

ACTION: Notice; Issuance of Advisory Bulletin.

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SUMMARY: PHMSA is issuing an Advisory Bulletin to remind operators of 
gas and hazardous liquid pipeline facilities to verify their records 
relating to operating specifications for maximum allowable operating 
pressure (MAOP) required by 49 CFR 192.517 and maximum operating 
pressure (MOP) required by 49 CFR 195.310. This Advisory Bulletin 
informs gas operators of anticipated changes in annual reporting 
requirements to document the confirmation of MAOP, how they will be 
required to report total mileage and mileage with adequate records, 
when they must report, and what PHMSA considers an adequate record. In 
addition, this Advisory Bulletin informs hazardous liquid operators of 
adequate records for the confirmation of MOP.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Gale by phone at 202-366-0434 or 
by email at john.gale@dot.gov. Information about PHMSA may be found at 
http://phmsa.dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    On January 10, 2011, PHMSA issued Advisory Bulletin 11-01. This 
Advisory Bulletin reminded operators that if they are relying on the 
review of design, construction, inspection, testing and other related 
data to establish MAOP and MOP, they must ensure that the records used 
are reliable, traceable, verifiable, and complete. If such a document 
and records search, review, and verification cannot be satisfactorily 
completed, the operator cannot rely on this method for calculating MAOP 
or MOP and must instead rely on another method as allowed in 49 CFR 
192.619 or 49 CFR 195.406.
    Section 192.619 currently contains four methods for establishing 
MAOP: (1) The design pressure of the weakest element in the segment; 
(2) pressure testing; (3) the highest actual operating pressure in the 
five years prior to the segment becoming subject to regulation under 
Part 192; and (4) the maximum safe pressure considering the history of 
the segment, particularly known corrosion and the actual operating

[[Page 26823]]

pressure. The third method, often referred to as the ``grandfather 
clause,'' allows pipelines that had safely operated prior to the 
pipeline safety MAOP regulations to continue to operate under similar 
conditions without retroactively applying recordkeeping requirements or 
requiring pressure tests.
    Many of the pipelines being newly subjected to safety regulation in 
the 1970's were relatively new and had demonstrated a safe operating 
history. PHMSA is now considering whether these pipelines should be 
pressure tested to verify continued safe MAOP. In its August 20, 2011, 
accident investigation report on the September 9, 2010, Pacific Gas and 
Electric Company natural gas transmission pipeline rupture and fire, 
the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that PHMSA 
should:

    Amend Title 49 CFR 192.619 to delete the grandfather clause and 
require that all gas transmission pipelines constructed before 1970 
be subjected to a hydrostatic pressure test that incorporates a 
spike test. (P-11-14)

    PHMSA will be addressing this recommendation in a future 
rulemaking.
    On January 3, 2012, President Obama signed the Pipeline Safety, 
Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 (Act), which 
requires PHMSA to direct each owner or operator of a gas transmission 
pipeline and associated facilities to provide verification that their 
records accurately reflect MAOP of their pipelines within Class 3 and 
Class 4 locations and in Class 1 and Class 2 locations in High 
Consequence Areas (HCAs). Beginning in 2013, PHMSA intends to require 
operators to submit data regarding verification of records in these 
class locations via the Gas Transmission and Gathering Systems Annual 
Report.
    Operators of both gas and hazardous liquid pipelines should review 
their records to determine whether they are adequate to support 
operating parameters and conditions on their pipeline systems or if 
additional action is needed to confirm those parameters and assure 
safety. The Research and Special Programs Administration and the 
Materials Transportation Bureau, PHMSA's predecessor agencies, 
recognized the importance of verifying MAOP. Prior to 1996, there was a 
regulatory requirement titled: ``Initial Determination of Class 
Location and Confirmation or Establishment of Maximum Allowable 
Operating Pressure'' at 49 CFR 192.607. This regulation required 
operators to confirm the MAOP on their systems relative to class 
locations no later than January 1, 1973. The regulatory requirement was 
removed in 1996 because the compliance dates had long since passed. 
PHMSA believes documentation that was used to confirm MAOP in 
compliance with this requirement may be useful in the current 
verification effort.

Advisory Bulletin (ADB-2012-06)

    To: Owners and Operators of Gas and Hazardous Liquid Pipeline 
Systems.
    Subject: Verification of Records Establishing MAOP and MOP.
    Advisory: As directed in the Act, PHMSA will require each owner or 
operator of a gas transmission pipeline and associated facilities to 
verify that their records confirm MAOP of their pipelines within Class 
3 and Class 4 locations and in Class 1 and Class 2 locations in HCAs.
    PHMSA intends to require gas pipeline operators to submit data 
regarding mileage of pipelines with verifiable records and mileage of 
pipelines without records in the annual reporting cycle for 2013. On 
April 13, 2012, (77 FR 22387) PHMSA published a Federal Register Notice 
titled: ``Information Collection Activities, Revision to Gas 
Transmission and Gathering Pipeline Systems Annual Report, Gas 
Transmission and Gathering Pipeline Systems Incident Report, and 
Hazardous Liquid Pipelines Systems Accident Report.'' PHMSA plans to 
use information from the 2013 Gas Transmission and Gathering Pipeline 
Systems Annual Report to develop potential rulemaking for cases in 
which the records of the owner or operator are insufficient to confirm 
the established MAOP of a pipeline segment within Class 3 and Class 4 
locations and in Class 1 and Class 2 locations in HCAs. Owners and 
operators should consider the guidance in this advisory for all 
pipeline segments and take action as appropriate to assure that all 
MAOP and MOP are supported by records that are traceable, verifiable 
and complete.
    Information needed to support establishment of MAOP and MOP is 
identified in Sec.  192.619, Sec.  192.620 and Sec.  195.406. An owner 
or operator of a pipeline must meet the recordkeeping requirements of 
Part 192 and Part 195 in support of MAOP and MOP determination.
    Traceable records are those which can be clearly linked to original 
information about a pipeline segment or facility. Traceable records 
might include pipe mill records, purchase requisition, or as-built 
documentation indicating minimum pipe yield strength, seam type, wall 
thickness and diameter. Careful attention should be given to records 
transcribed from original documents as they may contain errors. 
Information from a transcribed document, in many cases, should be 
verified with complementary or supporting documents.
    Verifiable records are those in which information is confirmed by 
other complementary, but separate, documentation. Verifiable records 
might include contract specifications for a pressure test of a line 
segment complemented by pressure charts or field logs. Another example 
might include a purchase order to a pipe mill with pipe specifications 
verified by a metallurgical test of a coupon pulled from the same pipe 
segment. In general, the only acceptable use of an affidavit would be 
as a complementary document, prepared and signed at the time of the 
test or inspection by an individual who would have reason to be 
familiar with the test or inspection.
    Complete records are those in which the record is finalized as 
evidenced by a signature, date or other appropriate marking. For 
example, a complete pressure testing record should identify a specific 
segment of pipe, who conducted the test, the duration of the test, the 
test medium, temperatures, accurate pressure readings, and elevation 
information as applicable. An incomplete record might reflect that the 
pressure test was initiated, failed and restarted without conclusive 
indication of a successful test. A record that cannot be specifically 
linked to an individual pipe segment is not a complete record for that 
segment. Incomplete or partial records are not an adequate basis for 
establishing MAOP or MOP. If records are unknown or unknowable, a more 
conservative approach is indicated.
    PHMSA is aware that other types of records may be acceptable and 
that certain state programs may have additional requirements. Operators 
should ensure all records establish confidence in the validity of the 
records. If a document and records search, review, and verification 
cannot be satisfactorily completed to meet the need for traceable, 
verifiable, and complete records, the operator may need to conduct 
other activities such as in-situ examination, measuring yield and 
tensile strength, pressure testing, and nondestructive testing or 
otherwise verify the characteristics of the pipeline to support a MAOP 
or MOP determination.
    PHMSA is supportive of the use of alternative technologies to 
verify pipe characteristics. Owners and operators seeking to use 
alternative or non-traditional technologies in the determination of 
MAOP or MOP, or to

[[Page 26824]]

meet other regulatory requirements, should first discuss the proposed 
approach with the appropriate state or Federal regulatory agencies to 
determine its acceptability under regulatory requirements.
    PHMSA will issue more direction regarding how operators will be 
required to bring into compliance gas and hazardous liquid pipelines 
without verifiable records for the entire mileage of the pipeline. 
Further details will also be provided on the manner in which PHMSA 
intends to require operators to reestablish MAOP as discussed in 
Section 23(a) of the Act.
    Finally, PHMSA notes that on September 26, 2011, NTSB issued 
Recommendation P-11-14: Eliminating Grandfather Clause. Section 
192.619(a)(3) allows gas transmission operators to establish MAOP of 
pipe installed before July 1, 1970, by use of records noting the 
highest actual operating pressure to which the segment was subjected 
during the five years preceding July 1, 1970. NTSB Recommendation P-11-
14 requests that PHMSA delete Sec.  192.619(a)(3), also known as the 
``grandfather clause,'' and require gas transmission pipeline operators 
to reestablish MAOP using hydrostatic pressure testing. PHMSA reminds 
operators that this recommendation will be acted upon following the 
collection of data, including information from the 2013 Gas 
Transmission and Gathering Pipeline Systems Annual Report, which will 
allow PHMSA to determine the impact of the requested change on the 
public and industry in conformance with our statutory obligations.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on May 1, 2012.
Alan K. Mayberry,
Deputy Associate Administrator for Field Operations.
[FR Doc. 2012-10866 Filed 5-4-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-60-P