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Interpretation Response #PI-19-0011

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Iowa Utilities Board

Individual Name: Mr. Magid Yousif

Location State: IA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

Mr. Magid Yousif
Utilities Regulation Engineer
Safety and Engineering Section
Iowa Utilities Board
1375 E. Court Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50319-0069

Dear Mr. Yousif:

In a July 19, 2019, letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), you asked whether the Iowa Utilities Board (Board) has the authority to grant a deviation from the atmospheric corrosion inspection frequency requirements in 49 CFR §192.481, as provided for in §192.1013.

In your letter, you provided that on June 16, 2017, Alliant Energy-Interstate Power and Light Company (IPL) filed a request with the Board to revise its atmospheric corrosion inspection frequency for its gas distribution system. If granted, you stated that IPL requested approval to deviate from the periodic inspection requirements of §192.481 by performing atmospheric corrosion inspections from at least once every three calendar years, but with intervals not exceeding 39 months to at least once every four calendar years, but with intervals not exceeding 51 months. You further stated, that IPL also proposed to maintain or improve safety by accelerating the frequency of distribution system leak surveys from every five years to every four years.

According to your letter, IPL filed a response with the Board on May 6, 2019, clarifying that it sought a deviation to inspection intervals under 49 CFR §192.1013. You stated that IPL noted that §192.1013 allows the Board to accept a pipeline operator's proposal to reduce the frequency of periodic inspections under its own authority. In response to this clarification, the Board issued an "Order Addressing Waiver and Directing Letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration" on June 27, 2019, directing Board staff to send a letter to PHMSA requesting a response regarding the authority of the Board to grant a deviation pursuant to §192.1013. You stated that the Board wants to ensure the approved waiver does not violate its agreement with PHMSA, nor does the Board want to require IPL to comply with conditions that may not be necessary for the deviation in the frequency of periodic inspections.

Section 192.1013 states:

§192.1013 When may an operator deviate from required periodic inspections under this part?
(a) An operator may propose to reduce the frequency of periodic inspections and tests required in this part on the basis of the engineering analysis and risk assessment required by this subpart.
(b) An operator must submit its proposal to the PHMSA Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety or, in the case of an intrastate pipeline facility regulated by the State, the appropriate State agency. The applicable oversight agency may accept the proposal on its own authority, with or without conditions and limitations, on a showing that the operator's proposal, which includes the adjusted interval, will provide an equal or greater overall level of safety.
(c) An operator may implement an approved reduction in the frequency of a periodic inspection or test only where the operator has developed and implemented an integrity management program that provides an equal or improved overall level of safety despite the reduced frequency of periodic inspections.

First, the regulations in subpart P of part 192, including §192.1013, prescribe the minimum requirements for a gas distribution integrity management program (DIMP). In connection with an operator's DIMP, §192.1013(a) is clear in allowing an operator to propose a reduction in the frequency of inspections and tests required in part 192, provided that the operator completes an engineering analysis and risk assessment required by subpart P and ensures an equivalent or improved level of safety through its DIMP. Second, §192.1013(b) specifies that such a proposal must be submitted to PHMSA or the appropriate State agency. In the present case, the Board may accept IPL's proposal on its own authority, with or without conditions or limitations, on a showing that IPL's proposal will provide an equal or greater level of safety and otherwise complies with § 192.1013. Third, PHMSA's review of the Board's acceptance of any such proposal is not required, differentiating it from the requirements of 49 USC 60118(d).

Therefore, it is PHMSA's interpretation that as the appropriate State agency for the intrastate pipeline, the Board may accept or deny ILP's proposal on its own authority in accordance with §192.1013(b).

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

Sincerely,

John A. Gale
Director, Office of Standards
and Rulemaking

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
192.1013 When may an operator deviate from required periodic inspections under this part?