Interpretation Response #PI-80-0104
Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.
Interpretation Response Details
October 21, 1980
Mr. Gerald F. Malloy Chairman, Eastern Region Department of Public Utility Control State of
165 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06115
At the recent State/Federal meeting, I promised to provide two requested items of information. One,
a list of nominees for the THLPSS Committee, was placed in your hands before adjourning. The other
an answer to the question relating to testing HVL pipelines, Docket No. PS-55, asking if the test
media could be the fluid to be transported or, in the alternative, some fluid other than water, is
This docket applies to §§195.300, 195.302(b), and 195.406(a)(5) which, in essence, prescribe
hydrostatic testing or otherwise limits the pressure for operation of HVL pipelines. It does not
address test media.
The media acceptable for testing must be in accordance with §195.306. This section prescribes that
water must be used, except that onshore pipelines may be tested with non volatile petroleum liquids
if specified conditions and procedures are met.
Sincerely, Walter Dennis
Office of Pipeline Safety Regulation
Materials Transportation Bureau
March 11, 1971
American Petroleum Institute Petition for Reconsideration – Par. 195.306(b)(2) Acting Director,
Office of Pipeline Safety
Acting Federal Railroad Administrator
The API petition for reconsideration of Par. 195.306(b)(2) has been reviewed by the OPS staff. We
agree that the 1,000-foot restriction is perhaps too restrictive, but we do not agree to completely
delete the requirement. In our opinion to do so would be a substantial reduction in the degree of
safety intended. Also, any action in this direction should only be done through a notice of
proposed rule making with an opportunity for comment.
Contrary to Mr. Lord’s statement on page 2 of the petition, this subject was expected to be a part
of the public hearing of January 18, 1970. It was intended that all phases of testing be discussed.
While the Notice for the hearing (34FR, No. 191) did not specifically reference the 1,000-foot
limitation, it did state “. . .commenters
are not limited to the specific questions raised. Should there be any other aspect of testing or
operating limitations that a person is interested in, he should feel free to express an opinion at
the hearing. . . .” (None were expressed.)
The OPS staff has studied the API proposal and also reevaluated the public comments received on the
proposed regulation. Considering those comments and other information available we recommend that
the petition be denied and that the attached proposed regulation revision be published as a notice
of proposed rule making. In our opinion, this proposed change should substantially satisfy the
industry concern while maintaining a high degree of public safety.
Section 195.306 – Test Medium
(a) No change.
(b) Liquid petroleum that does not vaporize rapidly may be used as a test medium if –
(1) The entire pipeline section under test is outside of cities and other populated areas.
(2) The test medium has a vapor pressure of less than 3.0 as determined by the Reid Method (ASTM
(3) There are no occupied buildings within 300 feet of the pipeline while the test stress level is
50 percent or greater of the specified minimum yield strength of the pipe in the test section.
(4) There are no more than 15 buildings intended for human occupancy or assembly within 1,000 feet
of the line in any one mile of length.
(5) The carrier takes steps to assure that any loss of test fluid will not create a hazard to any
water supply or public area in the vicinity and will minimize the chance of damage to the
IF there are any questions, I or my staff will be happy to discuss them with you. Original signed
Joseph C. Caldwell
United States Government Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration
DATE: December 31, 1970
TO: The Acting Administrator
Bureau of Railroad Safety
SUBJECT: Petition for Reconsideration
I forward for your review a Petition for Reconsideration filed by the American Petroleum Institute
(API), on behalf of the petroleum pipeline industry, concerning a restriction published in
Amendment 195-2 which states:
Section 195.306 Test Medium
(a) Except as provided in Paragraph (b) of this section, water must be used as the test
(b) Liquid petroleum that does not vaporize rapidly may be used as the test medium if--(1)
the entire pipeline section under test is outside of cities and other populated areas; and (2)
there are no persons, other than those conducting test, within 1000 feet of the test section.
It is with the "1000 foot" restriction that this petition deals. My staff concurs with the
petitioner belief that 49
CFR, Section 195.306(b)(2) should be deleted.
This particular provision causes great difficulty to pipeline operations when an existing pipeline
is relocated or when pipe is replaced in an existing pipeline. Relocation and repair are
accomplished while the pipeline contains product. If the pipeline company is required to remove
product for an appropriate distance (usually anywhere from 20 to 50 miles) so as to hydrostatically
test the line, then fill that line with water, then test and purge, the water from the line, it
creates a real hardship. Some of this hardship is enumerated in the attached Petition for
The American Petroleum Institute also notes that there has been no unsatisfactory safety experience
relative to the hydrostatically testing of pipelines with petroleum products which do not easily
If you concur with the petitioner, I shall have the appropriate formal rule making material
prepared at once. Mac E. Rogers
American Petroleum Institute
1101 Seventeenth Street, Northwest
Washington, D.C 20036
December 23, 1970
Re: 14.23 - HM -6
Mr. Carl V. Lyon, Acting Administrator
Federal Railroad Administration
400 7th Street, S. W. Washington, D. C. 20596
Dear Mr. Lyon:
The American Petroleum Institute (API), on behalf of the petroleum pipeline industry, petitions for
reconsideration, in part, of the regulations issued by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on
2, 1970, in Amendment 195-2; Docket HM-6, Testing Requirements and Operating Pressure Limitations
CFR, 195, Transportation of Liquids by Pipeline. This petition has been developed by the
Committee on Pipe Line Transportation whose members have management responsibility for virtually
the nation's liquid petroleum pipelines.
The Institute recognizes the expenditure of thought and effort which the Department of
Transportation has devoted to the development of these regulations. In general, the regulations are
workable and enforceable, and your staff is to be complimented on completing this task in so
creditable a fashion. The Institute is particularly pleased to note that the FRA has chosen to
respect many of the industry's carefully developed engineering and operating practices.
It is important that the regulations which become effective on January 8, 1971, be fully
disseminated and understood within industry and government. The Institute, in the interest of
reducing the possible confusion which might result from extensive changes in the regulations before
that date, wishes to petition for reconsideration of only a single requirement at this time. It is
possible that further experience in implementing the requirements of Part 195 will indicate the
need for initiatives from the carriers for additions to, revisions
of, or deletions from these regulations. The Institute assumes that the Federal. Railroad
Administration will recognize the need for possible future petitions for rulemaking and will accept
this petition without prejudice to future requests for changes.
In its review of Amendment 195-2, the Institute was surprised and disappointed to encounter sub-
section 195.306(b)(2) Test Medium. The requirements contained in this sub-section were first
proposed by the FRA in its Notice of Proposed Rule-Making (Docket No. HM-6; Notice 68-4) issued on
July 12, 1968. The text of the proposal was:
180.306 Test Medium
(b) If the entire pipeline section being tested is located outside of any city or other
populated area and if there are no persons (other than those conducting the test) within 1,000 feet
of the test section, the carrier may use liquid petroleum of a type that will not vaporize if
released to the atmosphere.
In its filing of January 13, 1969, in response to this Notice, the Institute recommended the
2,000-foot "clear zone" requirement, 1,000-feet on each side of the pipeline, in proposed paragraph
(b) be deleted, and a requirement for backfilling prior to testing with a petroleum medium be
substituted. The Institute also pointed out that the proposal would effectively prohibit use of
petroleum as a test medium, primarily because of pipeline-highway crossings.
The requirements contemplated by this proposal were not included in the regulation in Part 195,
Transportation of Liquids by Pipeline, Requirements for Design, Construction, Operations, and
promulgated on September 29, 1969. Nor were they designated as a subject for hearing in the Notice
Public Hearing (Notice 69-27; Docket No. HM-6) issued the same day. Neither were the carriers made
any other manner that this proposal remained under active consideration until certain of its
appeared as regulations in Amendment 195-2.
The Institute objects most strongly to the 2,000-foot clear zone provisions in paragraph
of the Amendment and reiterates its proposal that this requirement be deleted.
This change is requested because the required clear zone limitation is so unduly restrictive as to
virtually eliminate use of petroleum as a test medium in the nation's petroleum pipelines. This
prohibition would result primarily from the difficulty of establishing clear zones under the
2,000-foot criteria. Adoption of the API recommendation will provide relief from this problem with
no decrease in safety.
Although the use of petroleum test media is not a frequent practice on new construction, it has
been a common practice when testing relocations and it can be a most necessary one under certain
circumstances. To prohibit it, as the current regulation effectively does, would create an
unnecessary hardship on the carriers. It should also be pointed out that there has been no
unsatisfactory safety experience related to the hydrostatic testing of pipelines with petroleum
products which do not easily vaporize.
A number of factors dictate that the Regulations permit hydrostatic testing with petroleum under
certain circumstances. First, in winter in the northern states, ground temperatures are so low as
to freeze water should it be employed as a test medium. If carriers are limited to the use of water
as a test medium, they can safely conduct hydrostatic tests only when they are absolutely certain
that the ambient temperature during the test period will not drop below the point where the test
water would freeze and damage the pipeline. The use of anti-freeze solutions -- ethylene glycol or
methanol -- as test media is contraindicated by their expense and the problem of disposing of them
without contributing to pollution. By testing with petroleum products, pipelines may be placed in
service many months earlier than if the carrier were forced to wait for the spring thaw.
Secondly, in some areas a quantity of water sufficient to provide linefill for the hydrostatic test
cannot be acquired. This is sometimes the case in the Desert Southwest, the Rocky Mountain States
and in certain parts of the North in winter.
Thirdly, in the case of pipelines undergoing tests because of repair or modification, the disposal
of water contaminated with petroleum products can create serious problems.
Finally, it is difficult to dry a pipeline following a hydrostatic test with water so as to
eliminate the possibility of product degradation. Even minute amounts of water may render some
petroleum products unacceptable. This is particularly true of aviation turbine fuel and aviation
gasoline, products commonly transported by pipeline.
Hydrostatic tests are conducted by skilled personnel, the section of line under test being kept
under careful patrol and close scrutiny. These tests are hydrostatic, the test medium having no
velocity which might be converted to pressure by an unexpected operating upset and only that volume
of the test medium necessary for linefill is employed. Continuous communication, usually by radio,
is maintained along the entire section of pipeline undergoing testing. As a -further safety
measure, sections to be buried are backfilled prior
to testing. The practice of hydrostatic testing with certain petroleum products is a safe practice
and is sometimes a necessary one.
The Institute requests that the FRA act affirmatively and as quickly as possible on this Petition.
It stands ready to provide whatever further information or explanation the FRA may require.
Very truly yours,
Very truly yo
B.H. Lord, Jr.