WASHINGTON –The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) transmitted a final rule to the federal register regarding Underground Natural Gas Storage facilities (UNGSF) after considering comments received on a 2016 Interim Final Rule which addressed critical safety issues related to downhole facilities, including well integrity, wellbore tubing, and casing.
The PIPES Act of 2016 required PHMSA to enact minimum federal safety standards for UNGSF and address safety concerns following an October 2015 through February 2016 natural gas leak near Aliso Canyon, California. That incident resulted in the estimated release of 4.62 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
“The Aliso Canyon incident was one of the largest natural gas releases in U.S. history and affected the lives of thousands of Americans living and working nearby,” said PHMSA Administrator Skip Elliott. “Compliance with this rule will go a long way toward preventing an incident of that magnitude from happening again.”
The final rule incorporates the American Petroleum Institute’s Recommended Practices (RP) 1170 and 1171 by reference into the pipeline safety regulations as written. RPs 1170 and 1171 outline safety standards for several types of underground facilities and provide a minimum federal standard for inspection, enforcement, and training. These standards will directly apply to approximately 200 interstate facilities and serve as the minimum federal standard for approximately 200 intrastate facilities.
The rule also clarifies the threshold for reportable changes and events which require PHMSA notification and revises the definition of an Underground Natural Gas Storage facility.
PHMSA has transmitted this final rulemaking to the Office of the Federal Register for publication. Upon official publication of the rulemaking, a copy of the rule will be posted on PHMSA’s website.
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The mission of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is to protect people and the environment by advancing the safe transportation of energy and other hazardous materials that are essential to our daily lives. PHMSA develops and enforces regulations for the safe operation of the nation's 2.8 million mile pipeline transportation system and the nearly 1 million daily shipments of hazardous materials by land, sea, and air. Please visit https://www.phmsa.dot.gov or https://twitter.com/PHMSA_DOT for more information.