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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

PHMSA Final Rule: Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines: Repair Criteria, Integrity Management Improvements, Cathodic Protection, Management of Change, and Other Related Amendments

Thursday, August 4, 2022

PHMSA 07-22
Contact: PHMSA Public Affairs
Email: phmsapublicaffairs@dot.gov

New Rule Strengthens Safety Requirements for more than 300,000 miles of Natural Gas Pipelines

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) transmitted a final rule to the Federal Register today that will strengthen the safety and environmental protection on more than 300,000 miles of onshore gas transmission pipelines throughout the United States. The final rule, first initiated 11 years ago, incorporates lessons learned through the investigation of the September 9, 2010 gas transmission pipeline incident in San Bruno, CA, which resulted in the death of eight people and injuries to more than 60 others.

"When pipelines leak or fail, the results can be deadly, as we saw in the 2010 San Bruno tragedy," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "This new rule will significantly improve safety and environmental protections for our nation’s natural gas pipeline system, which will help save lives, avoid costly disruptions to gas service, and strengthen our supply chains."

The final rule establishes new standards for identifying threats, potential failures, and worst-case scenarios from an initial failure through conclusion of an incident. Based in part on recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board, the rule:

  • imposes new Management of Change process requirements to, for example, avoid a situation like the San Bruno incident where a substandard segment of pipe was substituted without proper authorization;
     
  • strengthens Integrity Management requirements, including identifying and evaluating all potential threats to pipelines;
     
  • bolsters corrosion control standards to include surveys for interference of corrosion protection, internal and external corrosion monitoring, and corrosion protection testing;
     
  • institutes new requirements for inspections after extreme weather events; and expands criteria and expedites timelines for pipeline repairs.

"The 2010 PG&E incident in San Bruno was a tragedy that we must never forget," said PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown. "This rule will help prevent future incidents by ensuring operators identify and repair threats more quickly and comprehensively, improving safety and mitigating climate impacts."

The final rule, first initiated in a 2011 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, concludes a trio of pipeline safety rules following PHMSA's 2016 proposed rulemaking for gas transmission and gathering pipelines. PHMSA issued a 2019 gas transmission final rule which addressed a number of congressional mandates and safety recommendations and a 2021 final rule that significantly expanded the scope of safety and reporting requirements for more than 400,000 miles of previously unregulated gas gathering lines. Today's final rule also marks a milestone of the completion of three of the six PHMSA measures in the U.S. Methane Reduction Action Plan.

Read the full text of the rule here.

 

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration develops and enforces regulations for the safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of the nation's 3.3-million-mile pipeline transportation system and the nearly 1.2 million daily shipments of hazardous materials by land, sea, and air. Please visit https://www.phmsa.dot.gov for more information.

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