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Posted: 16 Jan, 2017

PHMSA Tightens Pipeline Rules for HCAs

The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a new set of rules for the safety of pipelines carrying hazardous liquids, such as crude oil and natural gas. The measures detail that pipeline operators would have to perform more frequent inspections, extended inspections in high-consequence areas (HCAs), have leak detection systems on every pipeline, and extend reporting to gathering lines (which are not currently regulated by PHMSA).

These new regulations would directly affect the planned Mariner East 2 pipeline in Pennsylvania. It would also strengthen the standards for pipeline maintenance of ageing and high-risk infrastructure by increasing the frequency and quality of testing, and extending leak detection requirements. Part of the proposed new rules would require pipeline operators to inspect pipelines that have been operated under extreme weather conditions, such as hurricanes, to ensure the lines can operate safely after this type of event.

Sunoco Logistics planned Mariner East 2 pipeline would be carrying butane, propane, or ethane – all of which would be classed as “highly volatile liquids” under the new PHMSA rules. Hazardous liquids also include petroleum and its products, ethane, and anhydrous ammonia.

“This rule is primarily designed to mitigate or prevent hazardous liquid pipeline incidents,” “The benefits of prevention include avoided injuries and fatalities, clean-up and response costs, property damage, product loss, and ecosystem impacts.”

“The significant and expected growth in the nation’s production and use of oil is placing unprecedented demands on the nation’s pipeline system, underscoring the importance of moving this energy product safely and efficiently,” PHMSA spokesperson.

UPDATE: The safety measures planned under President Obama’s administration will now be subject to review by Congress and the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump, who is highly critical of any regulations that hinder energy development in the US.