EWN Blog

 
August 20, 2015

PHMSAΓÇÖs Pipeline Damage Prevention Programs Final Rule

PHMSA issued the Pipeline Damage Prevention Programs Final Rule and thereby established the process for evaluating state excavation damage prevention programs. This final ruling also established a federal standard for enforcement in states where such requirements were inadequate or non-existent. In response to the passing of the rule, PHMSA Interim Executive Director Stacy Cummings reported, “Between 1988 and 2014, there were 1,815 pipeline incidents caused by excavation damage that resulted in 193 deaths, 757 injuries, and nearly $545 million in property damage. This rule represents a critical achievement in the DepartmentΓÇÖs continuing efforts to prevent excavation damage to pipelines.” Specifically, the Pipeline Damage Prevention Programs Final Rule establishes the following items copied directly from PHMSAΓÇÖs website: The criteria and procedures PHMSA will use to determine the adequacy of state pipeline excavation damage prevention law┬áenforcement programs; The administrative process for states to contest notices┬áof inadequacy from PHMSA should they elect to do so; The federal requirements PHMSA will enforce against┬áexcavators for violations in states with inadequate excavation damage┬áprevention law enforcement programs; and The adjudication process for administrative enforcement┬áproceedings against excavators where federal authority is exercised. In 2006, the PIPES Act gave PHMSA authority to develop criteria for evaluating state damage prevention […]
July 6, 2015

Industry Evolution: Updated Drug & Alcohol Testing

PHMSA has proposed updates to the requirements for drug and alcohol testing of employees after an accident/incident. The revised and new language in the OQ NPRM limits exemptions from post-accident/incident testing only to situations when sufficient information exists to establish that the employee(s) had no role in the accident/incident. The additional language will also require operators to document specific reasons to justify why testing was not administered and to retain such documentation for at least three years. The current PHMSA regulations require documentation of decisions not to administer a post-accident alcohol test, however, documentation for decisions not to conduct a post-accident drug test is only implied in the regulation, although it is generally followed. PHMSA’s move to expand and clarify the language for post-accident/incident drug and alcohol testing stems from the National Transportation Safety Boards (NTSB) safety recommendation to PHMSA on September 26, 2011, via NTSB Recommendation. CURRENT PHMSA REGULATIONS 199.105 Drug tests required. Each operator shall conduct the following drug tests for the presence of a prohibited drug: (b) Post-accident testing. As soon as possible but no later than 32 hours after an accident, an operator shall drug test each employee whose performance either contributed to the accident or […]
June 25, 2015

Two Trains Passing in the Mountains Experience a Natural Gas Explosion

On June 3, 1989 in RussiaΓÇÖs Ural Mountains near the town of Ufa, a natural gas pipeline experienced a significant drop in pressure indicating a possible gas leak. In an effort to keep the pressure up, pipeline workers increased the flow of natural gas to the pipeline allowing the natural gas to leak and spread into the surrounding area. The natural gas settled in a low area close to nearby a Trans-Siberian Railway. As the natural gas began to settle in the low area, two trains approached each other from opposing directions on the rail tracks passing each other near the settled natural gas. As the two trains passed, the settled natural gas ignited causing a massive explosion including a fireball and flames that spread one mile from the source. The force of the explosion incinerated hundreds of trees instantly and knocked several train cars off the tracks. Due to the severity of the incident, it is not possible to determine the exact amount of lives lost. However, the best estimates were just over 500 lives lost and numerous individuals suffered severe burns requiring helicopter transport to local hospitals for treatment.
June 25, 2015

2014 Manhattan Gas Explosion (NTSB Coverage)

NTSB Meeting Covering the 3/12/2014 New York City, NY East Harlem District of Manhattan Gas Explosion On June 9, 2015, the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) held a meeting to discuss the findings and final rulings on the 3/12/2014 New York City, NY East Harlem District of Manhattan Gas Explosion. The final ruling is expected to be released sometime in July. The NTSB determined two factors contributing to the probable cause of the incident: Failure of a defective fuse joint at a service tee A breach in the adjacent sewer line that allowed groundwater and soil to flow into the sewer that was left unrepaired since at least 2006, resulting in a loss of support for the gas main, which caused the line to sag; thereby overstressing the defective fusion joint Recommendations determined through the NTSB meeting outline and follow industry best practices for integrity management, quality work procedures performed by qualified individuals, emergency planning, strategic isolation valve placement, and thorough audit processes on a 5-year basis. Video of full meeting: All Meetings ┬á┬á┬áFlash Media┬á┬á┬á Windows Media┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á Mobile Version 2014 East Harlem Gas Explosion discussions begins about 210 minutes into the presentation recording or can be accessed at the beginning […]
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