DOT opens hearing on risks from smaller pipeline systems

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Feb. 12�The US Department of Transportation's Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) opened 3 days of hearings Monday in Arlington, Va., on how to improve natural gas pipeline integrity management in high consequence areas.

It also was examining methods to improve all pipelines' communications with the government and public.

RSPA's Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) has begun rulemakings requiring hazardous liquid pipeline operators to assess the integrity of pipeline segments that, in the event of a leak or failure, could affect densely populated or environmentally sensitive areas.

In anticipation of similar rulemakings applying to natural gas pipelines, OPS has been meeting with representatives of the gas pipeline industry, research institutions, and state pipeline safety agencies to understand how integrity management principles can be applied to improve safety in the industry.

OPS said it also has been examining requirements that pipeline operators to share information with government officials and the public about risks from pipelines, how those risks can be controlled, and how to ensure lines are operated safely.

On Nov. 3, 2000, RSPA issued a final rule requiring liquid pipeline operators with more than 500 miles of pipeline to assess the integrity of pipeline segments that, in the event of a leak or failure, could affect high consequence areas.

In January, RSPA proposed a similar rule for systems of less than 500 miles.

Both sets of regulations would tighten testing and safety standards for hazardous liquid pipelines in urban neighborhoods, environmentally sensitive areas, and commercially navigable waterways.

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