PHMSA Considering Additional Pipeline Safety Changes

March 2012, Vol. 67 No. 3

Most transmission pipelines use the potential impact radius method for calculating HCAs. "The existing HCA identification criteria are adequate and appropriate to their primary focus, the protection of life and property, and they should be retained," states Terry Boss, senior vice president of Environment, Safety and Operations, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. It is, according to Boss, a" well-reasoned and vetted identification criteria that properly focus additional, critical integrity management activities on the areas of highest potential consequence."

The NAPSR wants PHMSA to require all transmission pipelines, new and current, to follow the same stringent safety requirements. "Any pipeline failure, whether in Class 1, 2, 3, or 4, is a risk to the public's safety and the pipeline's reliability," says Metro. "NAPSR believes that all transmission pipelines should be operated under the same federal safety standards and not be dependent on class location."

Numerous other groups also support a tightening of the HCA definition and the requirements applying to pipelines inside and outside HCAs. Kaye Laughlin, environmental coordinator, the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority, says, "PHMSA requirements should include prescriptive language in areas of human safety. System integrity requirements should be strengthened and expanded. The definition of a high-consequence area (HCA) should be revised and restrictions should be placed on the use of specific pipeline assessment methods for future pipelines."

House to pass oil/gas bills
Two House committees passed a jumbo infrastructure bill in February and a third was likely to follow suit, meaning the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act will probably pass the House quickly. How quickly the Senate will follow suit is unclear.