[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 140 (Wednesday, July 22, 1998)]
[Pages 39360-39362]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 98-19428]



Research and Special Programs Administration
[Docket No. RSPA-98-4029; Notice 1]

Pipeline Safety: Implementation of One-Call Systems Study

AGENCY: Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA); Office of 
Pipeline Safety (OPS).

ACTION: Notice of public meeting.


[[Page 39361]]

SUMMARY: This notice announces RSPA's intent to establish a team of 
government, industry, and public representatives to study best 
practices in damage prevention to underground utilities. The team will 
evaluate the effectiveness of various existing one-call notification 
systems in protecting the public, individuals engaging in excavation 
activities, and the environment, and in preventing disruptions to 
public services and damage to underground facilities like pipelines, 
telecommunications, electric, water and sewer lines. This notice also 
announces a public meeting to solicit views and recommendations on the 
direction of this study of one-call system best practices and to 
identify sources of information which should be considered as part of 
the study. RSPA invites interested parties to attend this public 
meeting, and to make presentations on views and areas of investigation 
which should be considered in the study, and to identify persons and 
organizations who should participate on the study team.

DATES AND LOCATION: The public meeting will be held on August 25-26, 
1998, at the Ritz Carlton, Pentagon City, 1250 South Hayes Street, 
Arlington, Virginia.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the subject matter of this notice should be sent 
to the Dockets Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Plaza 401, 
400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, DC 20590-0001, or you can E-Mail 
your comments to [email protected]. Comments should identify 
the docket number RSPA-98-4029. The Dockets facility is open from 10:00 
a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eben M. Wyman, (202) 366-0918, or by 
e-mail ([email protected]), regarding the subject matter of this 
Notice. Further information can be obtained by accessing OPS' Internet 
Home Page at: ops.dot.gov.



    Excavation damage is the leading cause of pipeline failures and a 
leading cause of service interruptions for other underground 
facilities; it is usually preventable. Excavation damage affects vital 
services and products delivered through all underground facilities: 
telecommunications, electricity, cable television, fiber optics, water 
and sewer lines, and petroleum and natural gas pipelines. These 
accidental dig-ins can result in loss of life, injuries, severe 
property damage and loss of vital services for homes and businesses.
    At the heart of damage prevention is better communications between 
excavators and operators of underground facilities. One-call systems 
provide a mechanism for excavators to notify facility operators of 
planned excavation, so that underground utilities can mark where their 
equipment and facilities are located to prevent damage. The approach to 
improving protection need not be costly or complicated.

Study of Best Practices

    RSPA's Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) is planning to study damage 
prevention practices associated with existing one-call notification 
systems. The purpose of the study is to gather and assess hard factual 
data in order to determine which existing one-call notification systems 
practices appear to be the most effective in protecting the public, 
excavators, and the environment and in preventing disruptions to public 
services and damage to underground facilities. The findings of the 
study will inform state agencies and one-call system operators about 
practices, technologies and methods that can improve overall system 
    Subsequent to the completion of the study in FY 1999, OPS and other 
organizations planning implementation expect to provide financial 
assistance to States as an incentive for one-call systems to implement 
those practices, technologies and methods which best can improve 
overall one call system performance.

Damage Prevention Quality Action Team

    In recent years, when OPS needed to bring diverse parties together 
for problem-solving on approaches to risk management, mapping, and 
damage prevention, the Quality Action Team (QAT) model has been an 
effective process for data gathering, determining options and 
collecting and addressing issues. Most recently, OPS has used this 
approach to address damage prevention education. The peer joint 
government/industry Damage Prevention Quality Action Team (DAMQAT), was 
established in October 1996. DAMQAT's mission is to increase awareness 
of the need to protect underground facilities, including pipelines, and 
to promote safe digging practices.
    DAMQAT is composed of representatives from federal and state 
government agencies, gas and hazardous liquid pipeline trade 
associations, a contractor, a one-call systems association, and the 
insurance and telecommunications industries. The team launched a 
nationwide damage prevention public education campaign in May, 1998, 
that is currently being pilot tested in three states. The campaign 
instructs professional excavators and the public on underground damage 
prevention, including use of one-call systems, and effective ways to 
locate underground facilities at excavation sites. The goals are to 
emphasize damage prevention measures beyond one-call and enhance 
communication among all parties at an excavation site. The team will 
evaluate the pilot findings to adapt the materials before launching the 
nationwide campaign.
    The team described in this notice will work in parallel with the 
DAMQAT, but will focus on the range of damage prevention issues beyond 
education. The new team will be drawn from the key players in damage 
prevention, with experience in best practices for operating one call 
systems and centers, and developing and using new technologies for 
communications, locating and marking underground facilities, and 
monitoring excavation activities.

Scope of the New Study

    Numerous factors affect the effectiveness and efficiency of one 
call system operations. Improving system efficiency is expected to 
reduce the risk of damage to underground facilities in numerous ways by 
increasing the number of excavators who call, by improving the accuracy 
of the marking and locating process, and improving communications 
between the operator and the excavator. Area for improvements that will 
be considered include, but are not limited to:
    (1) Encouraging participation by all parties concerned with 
underground facility damage prevention;
    (2) Promoting awareness;
    (3) Receiving and distributing information;
    (4) Verifying system effectiveness;
    (5) Mapping and locating underground facilities;
    (6) Preventing damage through notification;
    (7) Rapid response to emergency situations;
    (8) Marking accuracy and timeliness;
    (9) Risk to personnel;
    (10) Other characteristics relative to effective damage prevention 
notification; and
    (11) Encouraging compliance through effective enforcement.

[[Page 39362]]

Composition of the New Quality Action Team

    OPS seeks to identify organizations who are interested in 
contributing to the study as a working member of this joint government/
industry team. OPS plans to establish a core team of 12-15 
representatives of diverse organizations concerned with damage 
prevention systems. Subteams will be formed to devote attention to in-
depth assessment of particular subject areas.
    In conducting the study, it is important to include the broadest 
possible representation of parties who are concerned about damage 
prevention to comprehensively investigate all aspects of the 
notification, locating, marking and excavation process. Among the 
organizations who have expressed interest in participating in the study 
process are:
     Association of Oil Pipelines;
     American Gas Association;
     American Petroleum Institute;
     Interstate Natural Gas Association of America;
     American Public Gas Association;
     American Road and Transportation Builders Association;
     Associated General Contractors;
     National Utility Contractors Association;
     Competitive Telecommunications Association;
     Edison Electric Institute;
     Gas Processors Association;
     American Public Works Association;
     One Call Systems International;
     National Cable Television Association;
     United States Telephone Association;
     UTC, the Telecommunications Association;
     National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners;
     National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives; 
     Office of Pipeline Safety.
    OPS wishes to identify other organizations who wish to contribute 
as well as any members of the public who want to be considered and are 
willing to work on the study team. Specifically, OPS would like to hear 
     other Federal government agencies (i.e. Federal 
Communications Commission;
     State government agencies, such as State DOTs, planning 
organizations, etc;
     underground public utility organizations (water, sewer, 
electric, fiber optics, etc.;
     representatives from the railroad industry;
     representatives from the insurance industry
     agencies and organizations representing environmental 
     other organizations representing excavators;
     organizations representating other transportation 
interests; and
     representatives from the public.
    In order for OPS to effectively identify, consider and assemble all 
parties interested in participating on the team, it is important that 
actual representatives of the constituencies attend the public meeting 
to express their interest and qualifications.

Criteria for Study Participants

    1. To assure the broadest possible data, OPS seeks participation 
from individuals who represent organizations with defined missions and 
objectives related to preventing damage to underground utilities. Their 
organizations should have the means and ability to communicate to their 
membership throughout the study process.
    2. To provide for timely and efficient assessment of one-call 
system methods, individuals interested in contributing should have 
existing knowledge of the factors, factual data, history and aspects 
affecting one-call system performance either nationally, regionally or 
locally, and/or in-depth understanding of a particular method or 
process for improving the performance of the 11 factors listed above.
    3. To conduct the review of methods and complete and produce a 
final report, individuals interested in contributing should have 
abilities to work both individually and in a group environment.
    4. To benefit from public perspective on one-call services, OPS 
would like for members of the public to participate in the public 
meeting, and serve on the team. These individuals should be capable of 
assessing the issues of one-call systems and damage prevention 
techniques, and ideally would be affiliated in some capacity with an 
organization(s) affected by, or concerned with, damage prevention 

Information Sharing

    OPS would like interested parties to propose topics that they feel 
the team should address, including best practices of one-call systems, 
locating and marking techniques, data collection, and other 
technological advances that the team should assess and evaluate during 
the course of the study.
    OPS plans to promote information exchange between the team and 
interested public parties, and to provide current information regarding 
the study group proceedings. We will communicate about issues the team 
is considering and the study progress by numerous means including 
electronic and newsletter/print media. Details regarding communication 
will be provided at the public meeting.

Schedule for Implementation

    Following the meeting, OPS and organizations who have expressed an 
interest in participating will synthesize the information presented at 
the meeting and select a group of representatives to serve on the core 
team and the subteams. OPS believes the team will meet about every four 
to six weeks once the group has been established for up to a year in 
duration. Contract support will also be addressed at the post-meeting 
gathering, including discussion of appropriate parties to assist the 
team with facilitation, recording meeting notes, providing technical 
assistance, and report writing.
    The planning organizations will also discuss how the team will 
produce the final report that identifies those practices of one-call 
systems that are the most successful in preventing damage to 
underground facilities, and that provide effective and efficient 
service to excavators and underground facility operators.

Meeting Agenda

    For planning purposes, RSPA requests that parties interested in 
joining the team, or commenting on the team's focus, should be prepared 
     make a presentation at the meeting about their 
qualifications, or necessary qualifications for one to serve on the 
team or subteam to represent an organization;
     or express their views and recommendations on issues or 
practices that should be considered.
    Interested persons should notify Eben Wyman on (202) 366-0918 by 
August 17, 1998, with name, organization or interest, and type of 
presentation so that an agenda can be planned and all parties can be 
accommodated. In the event parties cannot attend, they can send a 
presentation in writing to OPS and we will present a summary during the 
    RSPA anticipates attendance and participation by government, the 
public, and a broad range of interested parties in the excavation and 
public utility communities, and representatives of other underground 
facility organizations.

    Issued in Washington, DC on July 16, 1998.
Stacey L. Gerard,
Acting Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety.
[FR Doc. 98-19428 Filed 7-21-98; 8:45 am]