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PHMSA Takes Action to Assist with Hurricane Michael Preparedness and Response Efforts

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

PHMSA is continuing to monitor the movements of Tropical Storm Michael to understand its potential effects on hazardous materials and pipeline operations.  This webpage provides critical information regarding PHMSA's pipeline and hazardous materials safety programs to assist in any necessary response and remediation efforts as the storm makes it way across Georiga and the Carolinas.  

Pipeline Operations

PHMSA is working with states and pipeline operators within the path of Hurricane Michael, or that could be potentially affected by the hurricane, to remove obstacles that would prevent safe and rapid recovery efforts. Operators continue to aggressively implement their hurricane preparedness plans and are taking actions to minimize the impact of the storm. 

PHMSA issued a Stay of Enforcement to all liquefied natural gas facilities, as well as interstate gas and hazardous liquid pipeline operators who may contain limited resources due to the storm. The document alerts operators that the agency will temporarily halt its enforcement of compliance with operator qualification requirements, but does not relieve operators of their safety responsibility to use trained, non-impaired workers to perform operation and maintenance tasks. 

PHMSA will be working with operators to discuss and potentially delay or reschedule planned inspections of pipeline systems and facilities impacted by the storm.

Emergency Waivers

In support of actions taken by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Coast Guard, PHMSA issued Emergency Waiver Orders to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a threat to public health, welfare, or the environment caused by actual or potential oil and hazardous materials incidents resulting from Hurricane Michael in specific counties throughout Florida and Georgia.

PHMSA also encourages state pipeline safety partners to consider suspending certain enforcement efforts for noncompliance in the interest of prompt and efficient pipeline safety activities related to response and recovery efforts for Hurricane Michael. PHMSA forwarded letters to the states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and North Carolina, that enables each state to grant requests for emergency waivers from intrastate operators of pipeline operator qualification requirements for up to 30-days.

Additional Helpful Information

Several advisory bulletins issued by PHMSA in the past are available for reference to further assist pipeline operators in their efforts to respond to emergency situations and ensure they remain in compliance with Federal pipeline safety regulations.

PHMSA's Pipeline Safety program staff is continuing to work closely with the Department of Energy and Department of Homeland Security to monitor the status of critical infrastructure in the impacted areas. For those needing to access underground infrastructure in affected states, PHMSA encourages a call to 811 prior to restoration and rebuilding digging projects. Visit the Common Ground Alliance for more information.

Additionally, PHMSA is aware that some operators may need to extend the hours-of-service for pipeline controllers for a variety of reasons, such as if other controllers are unable to get to the office or are handling their own flooding issues at home. Guidance on pipeline operator hours-of-service requirements is available HERE.

To learn more about obtaining a hazardous materials emergency special permit, click HERE.

To learn more about obtaining a pipeline safety emergency special permit, click HERE.

For additional information regarding emergency special permits or hazardous materials transport, please call the offices below:

Hazardous Materials Information Center: 800-467-4922

Hazardous Materials Approvals and Permits Division: 202-366-4535

Office of Pipeline Safety: 202-366-4595

Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2018