[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 18 (Tuesday, January 28, 2014)]
[Pages 4532-4534]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-01515]



Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

[Docket No. PHMSA-2013-0226]

Improvements in Preparing Oil Spill Facility Response Plans

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

ACTION: Notice; Issuance of Advisory Bulletin.


[[Page 4533]]

SUBJECT:  Conforming Facility Response Plans (FRPs) to Appendix A to 
Part 194--``Guidelines for the Preparation of Response Plans'' and 
Identifying Deficiencies.
SUMMARY: PHMSA is issuing this advisory bulletin to remind all onshore 
oil pipeline operators of the circumstances of the Marshall, Michigan, 
pipeline accident and the need to update FRPs every five years from the 
date of last submission or the last approval according to its 
significant and substantial designation. Plans must also be updated 
whenever new or different operating conditions would affect the 
implementation of a response plan. (See 49 CFR 194.121.) When updating 
their FRPs, operators should utilize Appendix A Part 194--Guidelines 
for the Preparation of Response Plans and submit them electronically to 
    This bulletin also notifies that FRPs found to meet the 
requirements of PHMSA's regulations at Part 194 will be posted on 
PHMSA's Web site for public viewing. Prior to posting, PHMSA will 
redact certain information, such as personally identifiable information 
and certain security related information, in accordance with the 
Freedom of Information Act and any other applicable Federal law. This 
document also alerts operators and their plan submitters to common 
errors in plans that require amendment prior to PHMSA's issuance of 
approval. Finally, onshore oil pipeline operators are encouraged to 
consider replacing incorporations by reference in their FRPs with a 
summary of referenced material or a copy of the full document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Justin Pryor by phone at 202-366-4595 
or by email at justin.pryor@dot.gov. Information about PHMSA may be 
found at http://www.phmsa.dot.gov.


I. Background

    On Sunday, July 25, 2010, at 5:58 p.m. eastern daylight time, a 
segment of a 30-inch-diameter pipeline (Line 6B), owned and operated by 
Enbridge Incorporated (Enbridge), ruptured in a wetland in Marshall, 
Michigan. The rupture was not discovered or addressed for over 17 
hours. During the time lapse, Enbridge twice pumped additional oil (81 
percent of the total release) into Line 6B during two startups; the 
total release was estimated to be 843,444 gallons of crude oil. The oil 
saturated the surrounding wetlands and flowed into the Talmadge Creek 
and the Kalamazoo River. Local residents self-evacuated from their 
homes, and serious environmental damage has required long-term 
remediation. About 320 people reported symptoms consistent with crude 
oil exposure. No fatalities were reported. Cleanup and remediation 
continues, and costs have exceeded $1 billion.
    The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the 
probable cause of the pipeline rupture was stress corrosion cracking 
that grew and coalesced from crack and corrosion defects under 
disbonded polyethylene tape coating. The rupture and prolonged release 
were caused by pervasive organizational failures at Enbridge that 
included: (1) Deficient integrity management procedures, which allowed 
well-documented crack defects in corroded areas to propagate until the 
pipeline failed; (2) inadequate training of control center personnel, 
which resulted in Enbridge's failure to recognize the rupture for 17 
hours and through two re-starts of the pipeline; and (3) insufficient 
public awareness and education, which allowed the release to continue 
for nearly 14 hours after the first notification of an odor to local 
emergency response agencies.
    Furthermore, the NTSB found that a failure to identify and ensure 
the availability of well-trained emergency responders with sufficient 
response resources, a lack of regulatory guidance for pipeline facility 
response planning, and limited oversight of pipeline emergency 
preparedness led to a deficient FRP that contributed to the severity of 
the environmental damage and long term consequences.

II. Advisory Bulletin (ADB-2014-01)

    To: Owners and Operators of Onshore Oil Pipeline Systems.
    Subject: Conforming Facility Response Plans to Appendix A to Part 
194--``Guidelines for the Preparation of Response Plans'' and 
Identifying Deficiencies.
    Advisory: PHMSA's regulations for FRPs, under Sec.  194.115(a), 
state that ``each operator shall identify and ensure, by contract or 
other approved means, the resources necessary to remove, to the maximum 
extent practicable, a worst case discharge and to mitigate or prevent a 
substantial threat of a worst case discharge.'' Section 194.115(b) goes 
on to state that ``an operator shall identify in the response plan the 
response resources which are available to respond within the time 
specified, after discovery of a worst case discharge, or to mitigate 
the substantial threat of such a discharge.''
    The NTSB noted that, because the pipeline safety regulations do not 
explicitly mandate the amount of resources or recovery capacity 
required for a worst-case discharge, Enbridge misinterpreted and 
miscalculated the amount of oil response resources required by Sec.  
194.115, resulting in a lack of adequate oil spill recovery equipment 
and resources during the initial response. The NTSB also explained that 
although Part 194 Appendix A recommends using the United States Coast 
Guard (USCG) regulations for preparation of FRPs, there was no 
indication that Enbridge utilized the USCG regulations in the 
preparation of its FRP.
    Section 194.115(a) requires operators to identify in their FRP the 
resources that are available to respond to a release. PHMSA points 
operators to Appendix C to 33 CFR part 154 Section 7, ``Calculating the 
Worst Case Discharge Planning Volumes'' as the best reference for 
planning for and ensuring proper response capability. Appendix A of 
Part 194--``Guidelines for the Preparation of Response Plans'' 
recommends that operators use the USCG regulations for preparation of 
response plans. To help comply with the identification and assurance of 
adequate response resources, as noted in the preamble to the Final Rule 
``Pipeline Safety: Response Plans for Onshore Transportation-Related 
Oil Pipelines,'' PHMSA ``encourages operators to use USCG-classified 
oil spill response organizations (OSRO).'' An operator contracting with 
USCG-classified OSROs for response to a worst case discharge will not 
have to describe the response resources or the response equipment 
maintenance program of the USCG-classified OSROs. The operator must 
consider the time required for the USCG-classified OSRO to respond to 
the spill from wherever the contractor is based to the high volume area 
and all other areas.
    For operators that contract with non-USCG-classified OSRO's, PHMSA 
uses the USCG guidelines at 33 CFR part 154, Appendix C, along with the 
USCG planning volume worksheet when it reviews FRPs to confirm 
sufficiency of response resources and compliance with Part 194.\1\

    \1\ The USCG Planning Volume Worksheet is available at http://www.phmsa.dot.gov/pipeline/library.

    Section 194.115(b) lists the maximum times allowed for response 
resources and personnel to arrive at the scene of a rupture. The 
increments of time are dependent on whether the spill occurs in a high 
volume area. The NTSB noted that Enbridge's plan erroneously indicated 
that tiers refer to the size of a spill. Operators are reminded that 

[[Page 4534]]

volume area'' is defined in Sec.  194.5. The response times that appear 
in the table at Sec.  194.115(b) correspond with the tiers established 
by the USCG for a worst-case discharge in the USCG guidance referenced 
in Appendix A to Part 194.
    As stated in a prior advisory bulletin ADB-2010-05 published in the 
Federal Register on June 28, 2010 (75 FR 36773) operators should review 
and update their oil spill response plans and contracts to ensure the 
availability of necessary response resources to a worst case discharge 
from their pipeline facilities even in the event that more than one 
significant incident were to occur simultaneously. The NTSB found that 
during the Marshall, MI, incident, Enbridge's OSROs failed to 
adequately respond because many of the initial response resources 
identified in the Enbridge's FRP took over 10 hours to arrive and be 
deployed at the spill site. Using a USCG-classified OSRO to account for 
response resources can help to reduce equipment information in an FRP 
and can help PHMSA confirm response capability in terms of resources. 
Nonetheless, it is the operator's responsibility to ensure that any 
OSROs listed can respond to the scene of an incident with the 
appropriate amount of resources and within the times provided in the 
tiers at Sec.  194.115(b).
    Additionally, to assist PHMSA in the timely processing and review 
of FRPs, onshore pipeline operators are encouraged to submit electronic 
copies of their response plans. PHMSA prefers electronic copies of 
plans in Portable Document Format over hard copies of plans. Electronic 
copies can be sent via commercial courier on disc or flash drive to the 
Office of Pipeline Safety at PHMSA Headquarters' address below:
    Office of Pipeline Safety (Attn: Response Plan Review), Pipeline 
and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, PHP-5, East Building, 2nd Floor, E22-321, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.
    Alternatively, electronic files less than 5 MB can be sent to 
    PHMSA also wishes to point out errors that commonly result in the 
rejection of plans in order to facilitate plan preparation and review. 
These errors include: (1) Missing, incorrect or incomplete methodology 
and calculations used to determine a Worst Case Discharge (WCD) that 
compares the volumes of WCDs from the pipeline, breakout tanks, and 
maximum historical discharge to include, if necessary, an affirmation 
that any of these elements are not applicable to the calculation; (2) 
failure to identify response resources that are available to respond to 
an incident scene; (3) failure to identify specific environmentally and 
economically sensitive areas applicable to the pipeline area of 
operation; (4) missing provisions to ensure responders are safe at a 
response site; and (5) omission of the name or title and 24-hour 
telephone number of an operator's ``Qualified Individual'' and at least 
one alternate. Deficiencies in any of these areas will require 
correction before PHMSA can approve a plan. FRPs found to meet the 
requirements of PHMSA's regulations found at Part 194 will be approved 
and redacted in accordance with FOIA and any other applicable Federal 
law and posted on PHMSA's Web site for public viewing. PHMSA posts 
these plans to help Federal, state and local officials strengthen and 
coordinate planning and prevention activities.
    Finally, PHMSA advises operators that while it is permitted to 
incorporate material into an FRP by reference, this practice may 
inhibit regulators' and incident responders' access to and 
understanding of an FRP during response to oil spill incidents and 
emergencies. For example, when responding to a spill, responders and 
regulators need access to operations, maintenance, and emergency 
manuals. It is important that all of the potential users of an FRP have 
immediate access to all relevant information and procedures.
    Therefore, operators should review their FRPs and carefully 
consider each incorporated document and determine whether full copies 
or summaries of documents should replace the references. PHMSA suggests 
operators include the relevant portion of any externally referenced 
procedural manual that is required in the FRP, by provisions of 49 CFR 
part 194. This practice will also allow PHMSA to more effectively 
determine that the operator's FRP procedures are consistent with Part 
194 requirements.

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. chapter 601: 49 CFR 1.53.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on January 22, 2014.
Jeffrey D. Wiese,
Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety.
[FR Doc. 2014-01515 Filed 1-27-14; 8:45 am]