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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Gas Gathering Line Definition; Alternative Definition for Onshore Lines and Proposed Safety Standards

Supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking.

On September 25, 1991, DOT published a notice of proposed rulemaking to revise the definition of "gathering line" in its gas pipeline safety standards. Because the proposal proved controversial, final action was postponed pending collection of additional information. In this Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM), PHMSA is proposing use of a consensus standard to distinguish onshore gathering lines. PHMSA's gas pipeline safety standards do not provide an adequate basis for distinguishing these pipelines from production facilities and transmission lines. In addition, PHMSA is proposing to establish safety standards for certain higher-risk onshore gathering lines, and to relax current standards on certain low-risk onshore gathering lines. (Onshore gathering lines in inlets of the Gulf of Mexico are not affected by this rulemaking.) Operators would use a new risk-based approach to determine which of its gathering lines are "regulated onshore gathering lines" and what safety standards the lines must meet. At present, PHMSA's safety standards do not apply to onshore gathering lines in rural locations, while onshore gathering lines in non-rural locations must meet the same requirements as transmission lines. This regulatory approach is insufficient to assure that conditions on gathering lines that pose a greater risk to the public and property are addressed. And it does not take into account the lower risk some other gathering lines pose. The intended effects of the proposed rules are improved identification of gathering lines, improved public confidence in the safety of gathering lines, and safety requirements better tailored to gathering line risks.

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