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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

Interpretation Response #PI-18-0016

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Washington UTC

Individual Name: Mr. Sean C. Mayo

Location State: WA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

Mr. Sean C. Mayo
Pipeline Safety Director
Washington Utilities and
Transportation Commission
1300 S. Evergreen Part Drive, S.W.,
P.O. Box 47250
Olympia Washington 98504-7250

Dear Mr. Mayo:

In a July 31, 2018, letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), you requested an interpretation of 49 CFR Part 191. Specifically, you requested an interpretation of the definition of "incident" as defined under § 191.3.

You stated a local distribution company (LDC), in Washington State, received call for a natural gas leak and dispatched its employees to investigate the source of the leak. Over a period of 4 days, the LDC employees made several excavations, found gas migrating through underground drain piping, and finally managed to pinpoint and isolate a segment of 2-inch steel main that stopped the flow of the natural gas. You stated then the LDC replaced the leaking segment of main. You asked whether the leak repair, which cost the operator more than $50,000, would meet the definition of an "incident" under § 191.3?

You provided two attachments that show the operator's 30-day follow-up letter to the Commission and the operator's total cost for responding, investigating, repairing and replacing the leaking pipeline including right of way restoration and overhead. One of the attachments shows that the operator believes the $50,000 in property damage must be a direct result of a gas pipeline failure (event) to be a reportable incident to PHMSA, but not the cost to repair the pipeline. Therefore, the operator does not believe this situation requires an incident report to PHMSA.

Under § 191.3, the definition of incident states, in relevant part:

Incident means . . . .

(ii) Estimated property damage of $50,000 or more, including loss to the operator and others, or both, but excluding cost of gas lost;

Here, the operator incurred costs of $72,986.99, including labor, equipment, and materials but not the cost of gas lost, in responding to and repairing the gas leak. The $72,986.99 cost of the repair is a loss to the operator attributable to the pipeline gas leak. Accordingly, the incident is a reportable incident under § 191.3.

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
191.3 Definitions