The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) introduced a new rule with more stringent requirements for pipeline shut-off valves.
This rule is intended to improve public safety by requiring installation of remotely controlled or automatic shut-off valves on new and replaced onshore natural gas, carbon dioxide and other hazardous liquid pipelines.
Meant to prevent repeat of incident that killed 8, injured 51
The new requirements, which were published March 31 in the Federal Register, will help prevent severe human and environmental consequences from pipeline failures like one that occurred in San Bruno, California, in 2010.
In the San Bruno incident, it took more than 90 minutes to stop the flow of natural gas in a leaking pipeline, resulting in an explosion that killed eight people and injured 51 others.
Under the requirements, new or replaced onshore pipelines that are six inches in diameter or greater will have to meet performance standards requiring closure to isolate a ruptured pipeline segment no more than 30 minutes after a rupture is identified.
Faster shut down times will help improve safety by allowing emergency services to respond more quickly to ruptures, according to the PHMSA.
The final rule also requires operators to ensure emergency response plans contain written procedures for fast identification and mitigation of ruptures and include procedures for engaging with public safety officials.
‘Doesn’t fully address recommendations’
While the new requirements were initiated following a recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the board feels the new rule “does not fully address previously issued safety recommendations.”
Why? Because the rule “excludes existing pipelines and therefore would not have helped mitigate the natural gas explosion that occurred in San Bruno, California, in 2010.”
The NTSB says it also falls short in addressing safety issues related to valve spacing and leak detection.