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Pipeline Safety: Protecting Unusually Sensitive Areas From Rural Onshore Hazardous Liquid Gathering Lines and Low-Stress Lines

Final rule.
PHMSA is amending its pipeline safety regulations to extend added protection to certain environmentally sensitive areas that could be damaged by failure of a rural onshore hazardous liquid gathering line or low-stress pipeline. Building on PHMSA's existing regulatory framework, the rule is intended to protect designated ``unusually sensitive areas'' (USAs)--locations requiring extra protection because of the presence of sole-source drinking water, endangered species, or other ecological resources. This rule defines ``regulated rural onshore hazardous liquid gathering lines'' and requires operators of these lines to comply with safety requirements that address the most common threats to the integrity of these pipelines: Corrosion and third-party damage. In accordance with the Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Enforcement and Safety (PIPES) Act of 2006, the rule also significantly narrows the regulatory exception for rural onshore low-stress hazardous liquid pipelines by extending all existing safety regulations, including integrity management requirements, to large-diameter low- stress pipelines within a defined ``buffer'' area around a USA. The final rule requires operators of these, and all other low-stress pipelines, to comply with annual reporting requirements, furnishing data needed for further rulemaking required by the PIPES Act.
73 FR 31634