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Interpretation Response #PI-83-0110

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date: 10-31-1983

Location state: PA    Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Request text:

November 2, 1983

Mr. Richard L. Beam, 
Associate Director Office 
of Pipeline Safety Regulations Material
Transportation Bureau Department of Transportation 
Washington, D.C.  20590

Dear Mr. Beam:
I recently received a copy of your memorandum dated September 14, 1983, to Robert L. Paullin
regarding a request for clarification of Section 192.614(b)(4).  I was shocked to learn that this
memorandum completely contradicted a position your office took on this matter in June, 1983.  This
turnaround concerns me greatly because the credibility of the Office of
Pipeline Safety Regulation has been seriously questioned by myself and many of my state pipeline
safety colleagues.  I would expect that any verbal communication of positions would carry the same
weight or importance as any written position.

Being a strong supporter of the Federal/State partnership in pipeline safety, I believe we must all
work together to accomplish the task of fulfilling our responsibilities under the appropriate
Federal and State pipeline safety laws.  I would encourage your office to establish procedures to
inform interested persons of actions your office intends to take regarding inquiries from those
interested people prior to circulating such material throughout the country.  This should help
ensure that the issue being addressed was completely understood.

I do not believe my June 17, 1983, letter to Mr. Edward Ondak regarding Section 192.614(b)(4) was
properly characterized or addressed in your September 14, 1983, answer to Mr. Paullin's
request for clarification.  I am willing to discuss this matter with you or your staff and if
additional information or further clarification is required, I will be pleased to work with you.

I would appreciate your consideration in the matter and will indicate that we are not attempting to
weaken the intent of the regulations but are recognizing that damage prevention programs are
different from state to state.  The Michigan damage preven-
tion legislation (1974 PA 53) and the one call communication system (MISS DIG) is the heart of the
damage prevention program in Michigan.  This program, together with the cooperation of excavators
and various utilities, has operated in an effective and efficient manner and it is my desire to see
that continue.

Very truly yours,

Michael J. Kidd, 
Office of Gas Operations

Response text:

October 31, 1983

Mr. John B. McGowan, Jr.
Vice President, Utilities Material and Controls
P.O. Box 991
Paoli, PA  19301

Dear Mr. McGowan:
This is in response to your letter of September 19, 1983, requesting our interpretation of §192.727
of 49 CFR Part 192 relative to the use of your company's expandable polymer plug process for
permanent abandonment of a service line.

Our position remains the same as stated in the June 2, 1981, letter of Acting Associate Director
Melvin A. Judah.  The method would satisfy the requirements of §192.727(d)(2) whenever service to a
customer is discontinued.  However, use of a plug device without disconnecting the service from the
source of gas would not meet the requirements of
§192.727(b).  We point out, also, that the industry Code ANSI/ASME B31.8 - 1982 and the ASME Guide
for Gas Transmission and Distribution Piping Systems - 1983 both state that abandoned lines should
be "physically disconnected" or "disconnected" from all sources of gas as the first item listed
under "abandonment" or "abandoning" relative to this matter.

As we stated in our letter of July 15, 1981, if you or gas opera-
tors wish to request a rule change to permit use of the process for abandonment of gas services,
the guidelines in 49
CFR §106.31 would be applicable.

I trust this information will be of assistance to you.
Sincerely, Richard L. Beam Associate Director for
Pipeline Safety Regulation
Materials Transportation Bureau

September 19, 1983

Mr. Melvin A. Judah Chief, Technical Division OPSR/MTB
Research & Special Programs Administration
Department of Transportation
Washington, DC  20590

Dear Mel:

Thank you so much for your time and that of your staff on Friday, September 2, 1983.  The meeting
was most informative and produc-

As you know, our company is currently developing a process whereby a heat expandable polymer plug
will be inserted in a service line, positioned at the second threaded joint of the tee and expanded
to permanently shut off gas flow on low pressure services.  The pipe would then be internally cut
three feet from the basement wall of the dwelling, the stub removed and the wall patched.

Our interpretation of 192.727 is that such a system satisfies the requirements for a permanent
abandonment of a service line.  You will recall some confusion about what this section provides for
service abandonments - it seems to be ambiguous.

Please consider this a formal request for your departments interpretation of this section as it
applies to our system for permanent abandonments.  Enclosed for your perusal are two of my earlier
correspondences with your department concerning this matter.
I anxiously await your response. Sincerely,
John B. McGowan, Jr.
Vice President


December 30, 1980

Mr. Paul J. Cory
Material Transportation Bureau Office of Pipeline Safety Operations U.S. Department of
400 Seventh Street, SW Washington, D.C.  20590

Dear Paul:

This letter follows-up our recent telephone conversation concerning accepted and approved methods
of permanently abandoning or deactivating the service lines to customers of pubic gas distribution
utilities.  -More specifically:  Section
192.727-"Abandonment or inactivation of facilities" of the Federal Code.

Our company is currently interested in marketing an internal, heat expandable polymer plug, which
would be inserted from the dwelling end of the service, out and expanded into the tee connection at
the main.  This process would eliminate excavation, which is today one of the greatest costs in a
utility maintenance budge.

It is our interpretation that this method would be acceptable under Section (d), Part (2) of
192.727.  A number of our clients interpret the code to read that a physical disconnection, i.e.;
cutting the service away from the main, is required. As I interpret this section, a physical
disconnect is only one of the options which can be followed.

It would be helpful if you could send a written clarification on this question.  Please include
whether physical disconnection of the service line from the main supply is optional or manditory

If you have any questions regarding our systems, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
Thanking you for your attention to this request, I am,
John B. McGowan


June 2, 1981

Mr. John B. McGowan
President, Utilities Material
& Controls Corporation
P.O. Box 991
Paoli, Pennsylvania  19301

Dear Mr. McGowan:
This responds to your recent question regarding 49 CFR §192.727(d)(2). The method you describe to
prevent the flow of gas by the inser-
tion of an expandable plastic device into a service line would satisfy the requirements of
§192.727(d)(2).  This device may be used whenever service to a customer is discontinued.

The first paragraph of your letter mentions permanently abandon-
ing a service line.  To avoid any misunderstanding about the application of the various paragraphs
of §192.727, paragraph (b) deals with all pipelines which have been abandoned, and specifi-
cally requires a physical disconnect.  The use of a plug device without a physical disconnect would
not satisfy the requirements of §192.727(b).

Sincerely, Melvin A. Judah
Acting Associate Director for Pipeline Safety Regulation Materials Transportation Bureau

June 5, 1981

Mr. Melvin A. Judah
Acting Associate Director
for Pipeline Safety Regulation Materials Transportation Bureau Department of Transportation
Washington, D.C.  20590

Dear Mr. Judah:
Regarding the receipt of your letter dated June 2, 1981, in reference to the interpretation of 49
CFR §192.727(d)(2). As you know, we have developed a new system for the abandonment and/or the
disconnection of gas service lines
without excavation at the main which, of course, is a major cost to the consumer and the utilities,
as well as the general nuisance to the general public.  In addition to the general plugging system
we have a method to physically disconnect service lines by internally cutting the service, thus
rendering it completely separated from the main.

Mr. Robert Langley, of your office, and myself had a lengthy phone conversation in regard to the
§192.727(b), as to where the service line had to be disconnected.

We would very much like to invite you and your people involved in this area to visit our Frazer,
Pennsylvania (suburban
phia) laboratory, where we could demonstrate our present system so that your people could get first
hand knowledge of how it works.

We feel that our system, which is a new state of art, could be considered for a rule change if the
need exists. We thank you for your letter and hope that you will accept our invitation to visit our
Best Regards,
John B. McGowan

July 15, 1981

Mr. John B. McGowan
President, Utilities Material and Controls
P.O. Box 991
Paoli, PA  19301

Dear Mr. McGowan:

This responds to your letter of June 5, 1981, about your system for "abandonment and/or the
disconnection of gas service lines" and your kind invitation to our staff to visit your laboratory
in Frazer, Pennsylvania.

I am sure that we would find the demonstration of your new system most interesting.  Regrettably,
because of recent staff deple-
tions and high workload priorities, we will not be able to accept your offer.

If you or the gas operators you supply wish to request a rule change to permit a system as you have
described to be used for the abandonment of gas services, we list the following guidelines for
proposing rule changes.  Of particular importance are the technical facts supporting any change
proposed for the safety regulations.

MTB's rulemaking procedures in 49 CFR §106.31, Petitions for rulemaking, state:

(a)  Any interested person may petition the Director to establish, amend, or repeal a regulation.
(b)  Each petition filed under this section must-
(1)  Set forth the tests or substance of the regulation or amendment proposed, or specify the rule
that the petitioner seeks to have repealed, as the case may be;

(2)  Explain the interest of the petitioner in the action requested; and

(3)  Contain any information and arguments available to the petitioner to support the action
sought. By way of advice, the "information and arguments" of (b)(3) above should cover the
following points:
"           What is the safety problem relating to the action                           sought?

"           Why is the existing rule, or lack of rule, inadequate?  Include history or origin of
existing safety situation with facts supporting need for change.

"           How will the proposed action solve the problem?  Why is it the best of alternative
solutions to the problem in terms of costs, feasibility, etc.

"           State any anticipated benefits (quantify if possible).

"           What is the estimated cost, or the savings, of the proposal? I trust the above
information will be of assistance to you.

Melvin A. Judah
Acting Associate Director
for Pipeline Safety Regulation
Materials Transportation Bureau

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
§ 192.727 Abandonment or deactivation of facilities