[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 144 (Wednesday, July 27, 2011)]
[Pages 44985-44986]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-19029]



Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

[Docket No. PHMSA-2011-0177]

Pipeline Safety: Potential for Damage to Pipeline Facilities 
Caused by Flooding

AGENCY: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), 

ACTION: Notice; Issuance of Advisory Bulletin.


SUMMARY: PHMSA is issuing this advisory bulletin to all owners and 
operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines to communicate the 
potential for damage to pipeline facilities caused by severe flooding. 
This advisory includes actions that operators should consider taking to 
ensure the integrity of pipelines in case of flooding.

ADDRESSES: This document can be viewed on the Office of Pipeline Safety 
home page at: http://ops.dot.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Operators of pipelines subject to 
regulation by PHMSA should contact the appropriate PHMSA Regional 
Office. The PHMSA Regional Offices and their contact information are as 
     Eastern Region: Connecticut, Delaware, District of 
Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, 
New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West 
Virginia, call 609-989-2171.
     Southern Region: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, 
Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and 
Tennessee, call 404-832-1140.
     Central Region: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, 
Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and 
Wisconsin, call 816-329-3800.
     Southwest Region: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, 
Oklahoma, and Texas, call 713-272-2859.
     Western Region: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, 
Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, 
call 720-963-3160.
    Intrastate pipeline operators should contact the appropriate State 
pipeline safety authority. A list of State pipeline safety authorities 
is provided at: http://www.napsr.org/managers/napsr_state_program_managers2.htm.


I. Background

    Section 192.613(a) of the Pipeline Safety Regulations (49 CFR parts 
190-199) states that ``[e]ach operator shall have a procedure for 
continuing surveillance of its facilities to determine and take 
appropriate action concerning changes in class location, failures, 
leakage history, corrosion, substantial changes in cathodic protection 
requirements, and other unusual operating and maintenance conditions.'' 
Section 192.613(b) further states that ``[i]f a segment of pipeline is 
determined to be in unsatisfactory condition but no immediate hazard 
exists, the operator shall initiate a program to recondition or phase 
out the segment involved, or, if the segment cannot be reconditioned or 
phased out, reduce the maximum allowable operating pressure in 
accordance with Sec.  192.619 (a) and (b).''
    Likewise, Sec.  195.401(b)(1) of the Pipeline Safety Regulations 
states that ``[w]henever an operator discovers any condition that could 
adversely affect the safe operation of its pipeline system, it must 
correct the condition within a reasonable time. However, if the 
condition is of such a nature that it presents an immediate hazard to 
persons or property, the operator may not operate the affected part of 
the system until it has corrected the unsafe condition.'' Section 
195.401(b)(2) further states that ``[w]hen an operator discovers a 
condition on a pipeline covered under [the integrity management 
requirements in] Sec.  195.452, the operator must correct the condition 
as prescribed in Sec.  195.452(h).''
    Severe flooding is the kind of unusual operating condition that can 
adversely affect the safe operation of a pipeline and require 
corrective action under Sec. Sec.  192.613(a) and 195.401(b). In 
October 1994, major flooding along the San Jacinto River near Houston, 
Texas, resulted in eight pipeline failures and compromised the 
integrity of several other pipelines. Similar flooding has occurred 
along the Yellowstone River in the past few months. While the cause of 
the accident is still under investigation, ExxonMobil Pipeline Company 
experienced a pipeline failure near

[[Page 44986]]

Laurel, Montana, on July 1, 2011, resulting in the release of crude oil 
into the Yellowstone River.
    Severe flooding and other conditions that can adversely affect the 
safe operation of a pipeline may also trigger the reporting 
requirements in Part 191 and Part 195 or applicable state reporting 
requirements. PHMSA requires operators to submit telephonic and written 
reports when natural gas or hazardous liquid releases occur that exceed 
certain threshold requirements. PHMSA also requires operators to submit 
reports of safety-related conditions involving potentially unsafe 
conditions on natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines (Sec. Sec.  
191.23 and 195.55).

Advisory Bulletin (ADB-11-04)

    To: Owners and operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipeline 
    Subject: Potential for damage to pipeline facilities caused by 
severe flooding.
    Advisory: Severe flooding can adversely affect the safe operation 
of a pipeline. Operators need to direct their resources in a manner 
that will enable them to determine the potential effects of flooding on 
their pipeline systems. Operators are urged to take the following 
actions to prevent and mitigate damage to pipeline facilities and 
ensure public and environmental safety in areas affected by flooding:
    1. Evaluate the accessibility of pipeline facilities that may be in 
jeopardy, such as valve settings, which are needed to isolate water 
crossings or other sections of a pipeline.
    2. Extend regulator vents and relief stacks above the level of 
anticipated flooding, as appropriate.
    3. Coordinate with emergency and spill responders on pipeline 
location and condition. Provide maps and other relevant information to 
such responders.
    4. Coordinate with other pipeline operators in the flood area and 
establish emergency response centers to act as a liaison for pipeline 
problems and solutions.
    5. Deploy personnel so that they will be in position to take 
emergency actions, such as shut down, isolation, or containment.
    6. Determine if facilities that are normally above ground (e.g., 
valves, regulators, relief sets, etc.) have become submerged and are in 
danger of being struck by vessels or debris; if possible, such 
facilities should be marked with an appropriate buoy with Coast Guard 
    7. Perform frequent patrols, including appropriate overflights, to 
evaluate right-of-way conditions at water crossings during flooding and 
after waters subside. Determine if flooding has exposed or undermined 
pipelines as a result of new river channels cut by the flooding or by 
erosion or scouring.
    8. Perform surveys to determine the depth of cover over pipelines 
and the condition of any exposed pipelines, such as those crossing 
scour holes. Where appropriate, surveys of underwater pipe should 
include the use of visual inspection by divers or instrumented 
detection. Information gathered by these surveys should be shared with 
affected landowners. Agricultural agencies may help to inform farmers 
of the potential hazard from reduced cover over pipelines.
    9. Ensure that line markers are still in place or replaced in a 
timely manner. Notify contractors, highway departments, and others 
involved in post-flood restoration activities of the presence of 
pipelines and the risks posed by reduced cover.
    If a pipeline has suffered damage, is shut-in, or is being operated 
at a reduced pressure as a precautionary measure as a result of 
flooding, the operator should advise the appropriate PHMSA Regional 
Office or State pipeline safety authority before returning the line to 
service, increasing its operating pressure, or otherwise changing its 
operating status. PHMSA or the State will review all available 
information and advise the operator, on a case-by-case basis, whether 
and to what extent a line can safely be returned to full service.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on July 22, 2011.
Jeffrey D. Wiese,
Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety.
[FR Doc. 2011-19029 Filed 7-26-11; 8:45 am]