PHMSA Announces Critical Safety Proposal for Energy Pipelines

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), February 7, 2020

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would revise federal pipeline safety regulations by requiring the installation of remotely controlled or automatic shutoff valves – or equivalent technologies – on certain newly constructed or entirely replaced natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines.  The proposed rule would enhance safety by mitigating the consequences of large-volume pipeline releases and establishing minimum standards for rupture detection.

This rule will improve critical safety requirements for the next generation of energy pipelines as U.S. energy production continues to grow,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. 

The NPRM requires that remote-control or automatic shutoff valves be installed on new or replaced pipelines greater than six inches in diameter.  Leak detection systems must be capable of closing valves to isolate a ruptured pipeline segment within 40 minutes.

The rule would address Congressional mandates from the Pipeline Safety Act of 2011, and recommendations from both the National Transportation Safety Board and a study conducted by the Government Accountability Office.

This proposal is backed by extensive research that supports the use of remotely controlled and automated valves as both cost-effective and capable of minimizing potential delays between the identification and isolation of a pipeline release,” said PHMSA Administrator Skip Elliott.

The proposed rule published in the Federal Register on February 6, 2020.

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