[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 148 (Thursday, August 1, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 46560-46563]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-18286]



Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 192

[Docket ID PHMSA-2013-0161]

Pipeline Safety: Class Location Requirements

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.


SUMMARY: PHMSA is seeking public comment on whether applying the 
integrity management program (IMP) requirements, or elements of IMP, to 
areas beyond current high consequence areas (HCAs) would mitigate the 
need for class location requirements for gas transmission pipelines.
    Section 5 of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job 
Creation Act of 2011 requires the Secretary of Transportation to 
evaluate and issue a report on whether IMP requirements should be 
expanded beyond HCAs and whether such expansion would mitigate the need 
for class location requirements.

DATES: The public comment period for this notice ends September 30, 

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by the Docket ID PHMSA-
2013-0161 by any of the following methods:
     E-Gov Web site: http://www.regulations.gov. This site 
allows the public to enter comments on any Federal Register notice 
issued by any agency. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
     Mail: Docket Management System, U.S. Department of 
Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W12-140, 
Washington, DC 20590.
    Hand Delivery: DOT Docket Management System, Room W12-140, on the 
ground floor of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays.
    Instructions: Identify the Docket ID at the beginning of your 
comments. If you submit your comments by mail, submit

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two copies. If you wish to receive confirmation that PHMSA has received 
your comments, include a self-addressed stamped postcard. Internet 
users may submit comments at http://www.regulations.gov.

    Note: Comments will be posted without changes or edits to http://www.regulations.gov including any personal information provided.

    Privacy Act Statement: Anyone may search the electronic form of all 
comments received for any of our dockets. You may review DOT's complete 
Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published April 11, 2000, 
(65 FR 19477).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Israni at 202-366-4571 or by 
email at [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 5 of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory 
Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 requires the Secretary of 
Transportation to evaluate and issue a report on whether IMP 
requirements, or elements of IMP, should be expanded beyond HCAs and, 
with respect to gas transmission pipeline facilities, whether applying 
IMP requirements to additional areas would mitigate the need for class 
location requirements. The 2011 Act requires that in conducting the 
evaluation, the Secretary shall consider, at a minimum, the following:
    (1) The continuing priority to enhance protections for public 
    (2) The continuing importance of reducing risk in high consequence 
    (3) The incremental costs of applying integrity management (IM) 
standards to pipelines outside of high-consequence areas where 
operators are already conducting assessments beyond what is required 
under chapter 601 of Title 49, United States Code.
    (4) The need to undertake IM assessments and repairs in a manner 
that is achievable and sustainable, and that does not disrupt pipeline 
    (5) The options for phasing in the extension of IM requirements 
beyond high-consequence areas, including the most effective and 
efficient options for decreasing risks to an increasing number of 
people living or working in proximity to pipeline facilities.
    (6) The appropriateness of applying repair criteria, such as 
pressure reductions and special requirements for scheduling 
remediation, to areas that are not high-consequence areas.

Class Location

    Regulations for gas transmission pipelines establish pipe strength 
requirements based on population density near the pipeline. Locations 
along gas pipelines are divided into classes from 1 (rural) to 4 
(densely populated) and are based upon the number of buildings or 
dwellings for human occupancy. Allowable pipe stresses, as a percentage 
of specified minimum yield strength (SMYS), decrease as class location 
increases from Class 1 to Class 4 locations.
    Class locations were an early method of differentiating risk along 
gas pipelines. The class location concept pre-dates Federal regulation 
of pipelines. These designations were previously included in the ASME 
International standard, ``Gas Transmission and Distribution Pipeline 
Systems,'' (ASME B31.8) from which the initial pipeline safety 
regulations were derived.
    Class location is determined by counting the number of dwellings 
within 660 feet of the pipeline for 1 mile (for Classes 1-3) or by 
determining that four-story buildings are prevalent along the pipeline 
(Class 4). Design factors, which are used in the formula to determine 
the design pressure for steel pipe and which generally reflect the 
maximum allowable percentage of SMYS, are 0.72 for Class 1, 0.60 for 
Class 2, 0.50 for Class 3, and 0.40 for Class 4. Pipelines are designed 
based on population along their route, and thus class location.
    A class location can change as population grows and more people 
live or work near the pipeline. When a class location changes, pipeline 
operators must either reduce the pipe's operating pressure to reduce 
stress levels in the pipe; replace the existing pipe with pipe that has 
thicker walls or higher yield strength to yield a lower operating 
stress at the same operating pressure; or where the class is changing 
only one class rating, such as from a Class 1 to Class 2 location, 
conduct a pressure test at a higher pressure. Operators can apply for 
special permits to prevent the need for pipe replacement or pressure 
reduction after a class location changes. Based on certain operating 
safety criteria and periodic integrity evaluations, PHMSA has approved 
some class location special permits.

Integrity Management Approach

    Gas IM requirements use a different approach to identify areas of 
higher risk along pipelines. The term ``high consequence area'' is used 
to identify pipelines that are subject to ongoing pipeline integrity 
assessments. HCAs are defined by counting the number of dwellings for 
human occupancy or identified sites where people congregate or where 
they are confined, such as a hospital, daycare facility, or a 
retirement or assisted-living facility, within a calculated impact 
circle that a potential pipeline failure could affect. Operators must 
periodically inspect the condition of their pipelines in an HCA and 
remediate any degradation that might affect the pipeline's integrity.

Comparison of Class Location and IM Approaches

    The class location requirements provide an additional safety margin 
for more densely populated areas. However, class location does not 
address the potential reduction of that safety margin over the course 
of time due to corrosion or other types of pipe degradation. IM 
requirements and HCA calculations provide additional safety for more 
densely populated areas because operators are required to conduct 
periodic inspections of the pipe and because repair timelines are 
specified for the anomalies identified within an HCA. Substituting an 
IM approach for the use of class locations would allow the operation of 
the pipeline at higher pressures while conducting integrity inspections 
and remediation to maintain safety.
    On August 25, 2011, PHMSA published an Advance Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking to seek comments on revising the pipeline safety regulations 
applicable to the safety of gas transmission and gas gathering 
pipelines. At that time, PHMSA requested comments on whether existing 
HCA criteria should be revised to potentially include more mileage or 
whether IMP requirements should be strengthened or expanded beyond the 
    The comments received on this topic are summarized as follows:
    From Industry:
    An industry commenter stated that no change to the regulations is 
needed and suggested applying IM principles to non-HCA areas should be 
left to industry as a voluntary effort. This commenter maintained that 
because the current definition is based on sound science and is serving 
its purpose, no fundamental change is needed.
    The Texas Pipeline Association and the Texas Oil & Gas Association 
commented that no change should be made until the studies required by 
the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 
are completed.
    From State Representatives:
    The National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives (NAPSR) 
suggested that PHMSA eliminate IM requirements and instead require all 
transmission pipelines to meet Class 3

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and 4 requirements. NAPSR suggested that alternatively, PHMSA should 
revise HCA criteria to include all Class 3 and 4 locations and segments 
that could affect critical infrastructure.
    The Jersey City Mayor's office submitted a petition for rulemaking 
dated March 15, 2012, contending that the current Class Location system 
``does not sufficiently reflect high density urban areas, as the 
regulations fail to contemplate either (1) the dramatic differences in 
population densities between highly congested areas and other less 
dense class 4 locations, or (2) the full continuum of population 
densities found in urban areas themselves.'' Based on this, Jersey City 
petitioned PHMSA to add three (3) new class locations, which would be 
defined as follows:
     A Class 5 location is any class location unit that 
includes one or more building(s) with between four and eight stories; 
(design factor--0.3);
     A Class 6 location is any class location unit that 
includes one or more building(s) with between 9 and 40 stories; (design 
factor--0.2); and
     A Class 7 location is any class location unit that 
includes at least 1 building with at least 41 stories. (design factor--
    The Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority stated that their 
experience has shown that improved pipeline design and construction 
requirements are needed to assure pipeline integrity. The Authority 
also commented that design requirements need to accommodate likely 
changes in class location, noting that explosive growth in some Alaska 
areas has resulted in certain class locations rapidly changing from 
Class 1 to Class 3.
    From the Public:
    A comment from the public suggested that PHMSA revise the IM 
requirements to potentially include more mileage (e.g., include entire 
Class 3 and 4 area in lieu of only the potentially impacted area inside 
Class 3 & 4) and critical infrastructure. The commenter further stated 
that PHMSA should expand IM principles to non-HCA areas, improve public 
awareness and involvement in HCAs, make maps publicly available, 
redefine class locations for high population areas, clarify Class 4, 
and establish a Class 5.
    The same commenter suggested that IM plans for densely populated 
areas (Class 4) and for a new Class 5 encompassing cities with 
population greater than 100,000, be developed in consultation with 
local emergency responders. The commenter further suggested that these 
plans should be available for review during the Federal Energy 
Regulatory Commission's environmental impact study and should be 
reviewed with local authorities.

Part 192 Regulations Impacted by Class Location

    There are indirect or secondary links to class location throughout 
Part 192. These links include sections that do not specifically mention 
class location; however, the sections may reference maximum allowable 
operating pressure (MAOP). If the use of class location designation 
were to be eliminated or merged, many regulatory sections will need to 
be reevaluated. The following Subparts would be affected:

Subpart A--General
Subpart B--Materials
Subpart C--Pipe Design
Subpart D--Design of Pipeline Components
Subpart E--Welding of Steel in Pipelines
Subpart G--General Construction Requirements for Transmission Lines 
and Mains
Subpart I--Requirements for Corrosion Control
Subpart J--Test Requirements
Subpart K--Uprating
Subpart L--Operations
Subpart M--Maintenance
Subpart O--Gas Transmission Pipeline Integrity Management

    PHMSA is inviting comment on the following:
    1. Should PHMSA increase the existing class location design factors 
in densely populated areas where buildings are over four stories?
    2. Should class locations be eliminated and a single design factor 
used if IM requirements are expanded beyond HCAs?
    3. Should there only be a single design factor for areas where 
there are large concentrations of populations, such as schools, 
hospitals, nursing homes, multiple-story buildings, stadiums, and 
shopping malls, as opposed to rural areas like deserts and farms where 
there are fewer people?
    4. Should operators be allowed to increase the MAOP of a pipeline 
from the present MAOP if a single design factor is created for all 
levels of population density?
    5. If class locations are eliminated and a single design factor 
used, should that single design factor be applied to existing 
    a. Installed before 1970 (pre-Federal regulation);
    b. That use low-frequency electric resistance welded pipe, electric 
flash welded pipe, lap-welded pipe, or other pipe manufactured with a 
seam factor less than 1.0 in accordance with Section 192.113;
    c. That include pipe without mechanical (strength) and chemical 
properties reports;
    d. That include pipe that has not been tested at or above 1.25 
times MAOP;
    e. That include pipe that operates without a pressure test in 
accordance with the Grandfather Clause in Section 192.619(c);
    f. That include pipe that is presently operating above the design 
factor of a Class 1 location due to the Grandfather Clause in Section 
192.619(c); and
    g. That include pipe with external coatings that shield cathodic 
    6. Should a pipeline that is operated with a single design factor 
be subject to periodic operational IM measures, similar to the criteria 
for HCA locations, including:
    a. Close interval surveys;
    b. Coating surveys and remediation;
    c. Stress corrosion cracking surveys (SCC) and segment replacement 
(if a SCC threat is found and not remediated);
    d. An ongoing monitoring program for DC currents and induced AC 
currents in high-voltage power transmission line corridors (including 
proper remediation plans);
    e. In-line tool inspections (ILI) to inspect for pipe metal loss 
(corrosion), cracks, hard spots, weld seams, and other integrity 
threats in steel pipe (ILI tool evaluations for metal loss must use 
specified-or-greater interaction criteria to ensure defects meet a 
minimum integrity criterion);
    f. Repairs to defects within a periodic time interval that is based 
on maintaining the pipeline design safety factor with a maximum pipe 
wall loss;
    g. Pipe surveys of the depth of cover over buried pipelines;
    h. Data integration of all surveys, excavations, remediation, and 
other integrity threats; and
    i. Pipeline remediation based on assessment and data integration 
    7. Should pipelines where a single design factor is used for 
establishing the MAOP be required to ensure that:
    a. Pipe seam quality issues are assessed and those pipes with 
quality or integrity concerns are removed from service;
    b. Pipe coatings on the pipeline and girth weld joints are non-
shielding to cathodic protection;
    c. Pipe in a cased crossing can be assessed for metallic and 
electrolytic shorts;
    d. Pipe defects or anomalies that cause the pipeline to not meet 
the pipeline's MAOP are remediated based on the design factor of the 
pipeline with a maximum pipe wall loss;

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    e. All girth welds are nondestructively tested at the time of 
    f. Minimum pipeline hydrostatic test pressures, based on MAOP and 
pipe yield strength, are met;
    g. Maximum spacing for cathodic protection pipe-to-soil test 
stations exists;
    h. Additional safety measures are implemented in areas with reduced 
depth of cover over buried pipelines;
    i. Line-of-sight markings on the pipeline are maintained, except in 
agricultural areas or at large water crossings (such as lakes) where 
line-of-sight signage is not practical;
    j. Monthly ground or aerial right-of-way patrols are performed;
    k. The applicable best practices of the Common Ground Alliance are 
included in the operator's damage prevention program; and
    l. The pipeline is incorporated into an IM program as a ``covered 
segment'' in a HCA in accordance with Section 192.903, which will 
include seven-year maximum periodic reassessment intervals according to 
Sec.  192.939.
    8. Should a root cause analysis be required to determine the cause 
of all in-service and hydrostatic test failures or leaks?
    9. Should pipelines without documented and complete material 
strength, wall thickness and seam records for pipe, fittings, flanges, 
fabrications, and valves, in accordance with Sections 192.105, 192.107, 
and 192.109 be allowed to operate at the single design factor?
    10. Should operators of pipelines that are allowed to operate at 
the single design factor complete hydrostatic tests as required by Part 
192, Subpart J, and maintain records as required in Section 192.517?
    11. Should pipelines, under a single design factor, be required to 
meet additional pipe manufacturing quality controls to minimize defects 
such as low-strength pipe, steel laminations, and pipe seam defects?
    12. Should pipeline construction personnel who would work in areas 
subject to the single design factor be required to take a construction 
operator qualification program?
    13. For emergency response and pipeline isolation purposes in the 
event of a rupture or leak, if a single design factor is allowed, what 
should the maximum spacing be between the mainline valves on a 
    a. Should all mainline valves be remotely or automatically 
activated if there is a rupture or leak on the pipeline?
    b. If, during a rupture or a leak, the mainline valves are not 
remotely or automatically activated, what should the maximum time be 
for a pipeline crew to isolate the mainline section?
    14. What should pressure limiting devices be set to for a pipeline 
operating with a single design factor?
    15. If the design factors of class locations were to be eliminated, 
and a single design factor used instead, what additional design, 
construction, and operational criteria are required to maintain 
pipeline safety in urban areas and in rural areas?

    Issued in Washington, DC, on July 25, 2013.
Jeffrey D. Wiese,
Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety.
[FR Doc. 2013-18286 Filed 7-31-13; 8:45 am]