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Interpretation Response #PI-17-0007

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: The Dow Chemical Company

Individual Name: Ms. Jennifer Ashcraft

Location State: TX Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

December 4, 2017

Ms. Jennifer Ashcraft
Senior Regulatory Compliance Specialist
The Dow Chemical Company
2301 N. Brazosport Blvd., B-101
Freeport, TX 77541-3257

Dear Mr. Ashcraft:

In a March 31, 2017, letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), you requested an interpretation of 49 CFR Part 192 for your single gas line at Dow Chemical Company(Dow)'s Seadrift Operations manufacturing facility in Seadrift, Texas. You had previously requested an interpretation on these facts from the Railroad Commission of Texas.

You provided the following information

Seadrift Operations is located on 4,700 acres with 9 manufacturing plants representing many of Dow's global businesses. Seadrift Operations purchases methane from multiple pipeline operators to use for operating various area of the plant. All of the gas is delivered to Dow on Dow property. Dow is the customer and the consumer of all purchased gas. Dow meets the definition of a" large volume customer" with respect to 49 CFR Part 192. All of the in-plant gas piping that Dow owns and operates is located on Dow property, with the exception of 220-feet of a single 1.5-inch line that crosses a public thoroughfare (TX-185).

You stated that the 1.5-inch pipeline carries methane and operates at < 20% SMYS. You provided regulatory information on 49 CFR Part 195 that you believe would exclude this line from Federal pipeline safety regulations if this line were a hazardous liquid line. Therefore, you requested PHMSA's interpretation and position on the applicability of the in-plant piping exemption to this gas line and in general for applying to other Dow situations. Also, you referenced 2010 and 1998 PHMSA interpretations that you believe are applicable to your request.

The 2010 interpretation states that "piping operated by the facility operator entirely on the grounds of the facility is considered 'in-plant piping' and would not be subject to the pipeline safety regulations." It continues, however, that the gas pipelines at issue in that interpretation "are not located on the geographically contiguous grounds of a facility. Rather these lines depart [the operator's property] and cross roads and highways accessed by the public, albeit for relatively short distances. To the extent such lines are not on plant property, they are subject to the pipeline safety laws." (emphasis added). The interpretation also states that although PHMSA has chosen not to enforce the Federal gas pipeline safety regulations in Part 192 on such lines, it would "not object to a State regulating the portions of such lines that are not on plant property."

While the "Regulatory Review: Hazardous Liquid and Carbon Dioxide Pipeline Safety Standards" rulemaking (59 FR 33,388 (June 28, 1994)) and 1998 PHMSA interpretation cited by Dow both state there is an exception for in-plant piping that crosses a single public thoroughfare, the scope of the rulemaking and 1998 interpretation was Part 195 of PHMSA's regulations. Many of the Part 192 and 195 regulations are similar, but in this case, the 2010 interpretation clearly shows that the application of in-plant piping is different for Part 192 than the rulemaking and 1998 interpretation treat in-plant piping for Part 195. Because the 2010 interpretation directly addresses Part 192, as does Dow's request, the 2010 interpretation governs Dow's situation.

Based upon the 2010 interpretation, Dow's 1.5-inch pipeline is subject to Federal pipeline safety regulations. It leaves Dow's property and crosses a public highway before reentering Dow's property. As pointed out in the 2010 interpretation, "To the extent such lines are not on plant property, they are subject to the pipeline safety laws." Likewise, though PHMSA may choose not to enforce its regulations on these short pipelines, but PHMSA does not object where the state regulating the portions of such lines does enforce the applicable regulations. Therefore, because the Railroad Commission of Texas has regulatory authority over pipeline safety in Texas, it may enforce its pipeline safety regulations on the 1.5-inch pipeline with PHMSA's support.

It should be noted that the Railroad Commission of Texas has regulatory authority over intrastate gas pipeline safety in Texas and may impose additional or more stringent safety measures than the Federal regulations.

If we can be of further assistance, please contact Tewabe Asebe at 202-366-5523.



John A. Gale
Director, Office of Standards
and Rulemaking

Regulation Sections

Section Subject