[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 134 (Friday, July 12, 2013)]
[Pages 41991-41993]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-16754]



Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

[Docket No. PHMSA-2013-0136]

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.

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 

 Central Region: 816-329-3800
    Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, 
Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio,

[[Page 41992]]

South Dakota, and Wisconsin
 Eastern Region: 609-989-2171
    Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, 
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode 
Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia
 Southern Region: 404-832-1147
    Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, 
Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and Tennessee
 Southwest Region: 713-272-2859
    Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas
 Western Region: 720-963-3160
    Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, 
Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming
    Intrastate pipeline operators should contact the appropriate state 
pipeline safety authority. A list of state pipeline safety authorities 
is provided at: www.napsr.org.


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).
    PHMSA has released five Advisory Bulletins on this subject with the 
earliest issued July 29, 1993 (ADB-93-03), and the most recent Advisory 
Bulletin (ADB-11-04) on July 27, 2011, 76 FR 44985, each of which 
followed an event that involved severe flooding that affected pipelines 
in the areas of rising waters. Three of the more notable events are 
briefly described below:
    On August 13, 2011, Enterprise Products Operating, LLC discovered a 
release of 28,350 gallons (675 barrels) of natural gasoline into the 
Missouri River in Iowa. The rupture, according to the metallurgical 
report, was the result of fatigue crack growth driven by vibrations in 
the pipe from vortex shedding.
    On July 1, 2011, ExxonMobil Pipeline Company experienced a pipeline 
failure near Laurel, Montana, resulting in the release of 63,000 
gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River. The rupture was caused 
by debris washing downstream in the river damaging the exposed 
    On July 15, 2011, NuStar Pipeline Operating Partnership, L.P. 
reported a 100-barrel anhydrous ammonia spill in the Missouri River in 
Nebraska. The 6-inch-diameter pipeline was exposed by scouring during 
extreme flooding.
    As shown in these previous events, damage to a pipeline may occur 
as a result of additional stresses imposed on piping by undermining of 
the support structure and by impact and/or waterborne forces. Washouts 
and erosion may result in loss of support for both buried and exposed 
pipelines. The flow of water against an exposed pipeline may also 
result in forces sufficient to cause a failure. These forces are 
increased by the accumulation of debris against the pipeline. Reduction 
of cover over pipelines in farmland may also result in the pipeline 
being struck by equipment used in farming or clean-up operations.
    Additionally, the safety of valves, regulators, relief sets, and 
other facilities normally above ground or above water is jeopardized 
when covered by water. This threat is posed not only by operational 
factors, but also by the possibility of damage by outside forces, 
floating debris, current, and craft operating on the water. Boaters 
involved in rescue operations, emergency support functions, 
sightseeing, and other activities are generally not aware of the 
seriousness of an incident that could result from their craft damaging 
a pipeline facility that is unseen beneath the surface of the water. 
Depending on the size of the craft and the pipeline facility struck, 
significant pipeline damage may result.
    Though these accidents account for less than one percent of the 
total number of pipeline accidents, the consequences of a release in 
water can be much more severe because of the threats to drinking water 
supplies and potential environmental damage.

II. Advisory Bulletin (ADB-2013-02)

    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 and, if possible, mark such 
facilities with an appropriate buoy and Coast Guard approval.
    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.

[[Page 41993]]

    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 due to 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. Furthermore, reporting a Safety Related Condition as prescribed 
in Sec. Sec.  191.23 and 195.55 may also be required.

    Issued in Washington, DC on July 8, 2013.
Jeffrey D. Wiese,
Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety.
[FR Doc. 2013-16754 Filed 7-11-13; 8:45 am]