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Interpretation Response #PI-04-0108 ([Virginia State Corporation Commission] [Mr. Jim Hotinger])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Virginia State Corporation Commission

Individual Name: Mr. Jim Hotinger

Location State: VA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:


U.S. Department of Transportation
Research and Special Programs Administration
400 Seventh St., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20590

December 29, 2004

Mr. Jim Hotinger

Senior Utilities Engineer
Virginia State Corporation Commission P.O. Box 2118
Richmond, VA 23216

Dear Mr. Hotinger:

This is in response to your letter of December 23, 2004, in which you request an interpretation of the definition of "important buildings" as used in the 1998 edition of NFPA 59, Standard for the Storage and Handling of Liquefied Petroleum Gases at Utility Gas Plants. This standard is incorporated by reference in the gas pipeline safety regulations at 49 CFR 192.11, Petroleum gas systems.

Section 192.7 of the regulations makes clear that "... any documents or portions thereof incorporated by reference in this part are included in this part as though set out in full." Therefore, a gas pipeline operator subject to 49 CFR Part 192 is obligated under § 192.11 and § 192.7 to comply with Table 3-5.1 of NFPA 59A (1998). This table requires that a refrigerated LPG tank with a capacity of more than one million gallons must be at least 400 feet from any "important buildings." However, this term is not defined in NFPA 59 or in any final rule or interpretation issued by the Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS).

We have reviewed the letters you enclosed from James H. Stannard, Jr. who was chairman of the NFPA technical committee responsible for drafting NFPA 59 (1998), and from Theodore C. Lemoff, Staff Liaison, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Both agree that the term "important buildings" refers to significant buildings frequented by the public that are not associated with a gas plant, such as office buildings, factories, schools, prisons, and the like.

We agree with Mr. Stannard and Mr. Lemoff that "it would have made little sense, in the days when process control was either direct or through pneumatic instrumentation, to require such a separation distance for buildings or structures associated with the [gas] facility, particularly for those housing process and control functions." Therefore, for purposes of the gas pipeline safety regulations, "important buildings" does not include buildings associated with the gas plant, such as control rooms, compressor buildings, motor control centers, warehouses, and fire pump houses.

If you have any further questions about the pipeline safety regulations, please contact me at (202) 366-4565.


Richard D. Huriaux, P.E.
Director, Technical Standards
Office of Pipeline Safety

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
192.7 What documents are incorporated by reference partly or wholly in this part?