[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 120 (Tuesday, June 23, 2015)]
[Pages 36042-36044]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-15401]



Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

[Docket No. PHMSA-2015-0140]

Pipeline Safety: Potential for Damage to Pipeline Facilities 
Caused by the Passage of Hurricanes

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

ACTION: Notice; Issuance of Advisory Bulletin.


SUMMARY: PHMSA is issuing this advisory bulletin to remind owners and 
operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines of the potential for 
damage to pipeline facilities caused by the passage of hurricanes.

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

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Pipeline operators regulated by PHMSA 
should contact the appropriate PHMSA Regional Office. PHMSA's Regional

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Offices and their contact information are as follows:
     Eastern Region: Connecticut, Delaware, District of 
Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, 
New York, Ohio, 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, 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.
    For general information about this notice, contact David Lehman, 
Director for Emergency Support and Security, 202-366-4439 or by email 
at [email protected].


I. Background

    The purpose of this advisory bulletin is to remind owners and 
operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines, particularly those 
with facilities located in offshore and inland areas, about the serious 
safety-related issues that can result from the passage of hurricanes. 
Potential damage can occur to offshore platforms and pipelines, onshore 
pumping stations, compressor stations, and terminals.
    Operators have a general obligation to identify any conditions that 
can adversely affect the operation of their pipelines and to take 
appropriate corrective measures upon discovering such conditions. 
Specifically, Sec.  192.613 of the gas pipeline safety regulations 
states that ``[e]ach operator shall have a procedure for continuing 
surveillance of its facilities to determine and take appropriate action 
concerning . . . unusual operating and maintenance conditions,'' and 
``[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).'' Section 195.401(b)(1) of the hazardous liquid 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).''
    Operators of shallow-water gas and hazardous liquid pipelines in 
the Gulf of Mexico and its inlets have a specific obligation to 
``prepare and follow a procedure to identify [their] pipelines . . . 
that are at risk of being an exposed underwater pipeline or a hazard to 
navigation . . . [and to] conduct appropriate underwater inspections . 
. . [of those pipelines] based on the identified risk[;]'' and upon 
discovering that ``its pipeline is an exposed underwater pipeline or 
poses a hazard to navigation,'' to promptly report the location of that 
pipeline to the National Response Center, to mark its location, and to 
ensure its reburial within a specified time. 49 CFR 192.612, 195.413.
    Hurricanes can adversely affect the operation of a pipeline and 
require corrective action under Sec. Sec.  192.613 and 195.401. 
Hurricanes also increase the risk of underwater pipelines in the Gulf 
of Mexico and its inlets becoming exposed or constituting a hazard to 
navigation under Sec. Sec.  192.612 and 195.413. The concentration of 
U.S. oil and gas production, processing, and transportation facilities 
in the Gulf of Mexico and onshore Gulf Coast means that a significant 
percentage of domestic oil and gas production and processing is prone 
to disruption by hurricanes.
    In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused significant damage to 
the oil and gas production structures. The onshore damage caused a 
significant impact in the ability of the oil and gas industry to 
respond due to the lack of resources, personnel, and infrastructure, as 
well as significant damage to onshore processing facilities and power 
supplies. There were significant competing resource needs with the 
impacts caused by the devastation of New Orleans and western Louisiana/
eastern Texas shore communities that normally provide the services and 
supplies for the industry.

II. Advisory Bulletin (ADB-2015-02)

    To: Owners and operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipeline 
    Subject: Potential for damage to pipeline facilities caused by 
    Advisory: All owners and operators of gas and hazardous liquid 
pipelines are reminded that pipeline safety problems can occur from the 
passage of hurricanes. Pipeline operators are urged to take the 
following actions to ensure pipeline safety:
    1. Identify persons who normally engage in shallow-water commercial 
fishing, shrimping, and other marine vessel operations and caution them 
that underwater offshore pipelines may be exposed or constitute a 
hazard to navigation. Marine vessels operating in water depths 
comparable to a vessel's draft or when operating bottom dragging 
equipment can be damaged and their crews endangered by an encounter 
with an underwater pipeline.
    2. Identify and caution marine vessel operators in offshore 
shipping lanes and other offshore areas that deploying fishing nets or 
anchors and conducting dredging operations may damage underwater 
pipelines, their vessels, and endanger their crews.
    3. After a disruption, operators need to bring offshore and inland 
transmission facilities back online, check for structural damage to 
piping, valves, emergency shutdown systems, risers and supporting 
systems. Aerial inspections of pipeline routes should be conducted to 
check for leaks in the transmission systems. In areas where floating 
and jack-up rigs have moved and their path could have been over the 
pipelines, review possible routes and check for sub-sea pipeline damage 
where required.
    4. Operators should take action to minimize and mitigate damages 
caused by flooding to gas distribution systems, including the 
prevention of overpressure of low pressure and high pressure 
distribution systems.
    PHMSA would appreciate receiving information about any damage to 
pipeline facilities caused by hurricanes. The Federal pipeline safety 
regulations require that operators report certain incidents and 
accidents to PHMSA by specific methods. Damage not reported by these 
methods may be reported to David Lehman, Director for Emergency Support 
and Security, 202-366-4439 or by email at [email protected].
    Chapter 601; 49 CFR 1.97.

[[Page 36044]]

    Issued in Washington, DC, on June 18, 2015.
Jeffrey D. Wiese,
Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety.
[FR Doc. 2015-15401 Filed 6-22-15; 08:45 am]