Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

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The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is a United States Department of Transportation agency created in 2004, responsible for developing and enforcing regulations for the safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of the US' 2.6 million mile pipeline transportation. It is responsible for nearly 1 million daily shipments of hazardous materials by land, sea, and air. It oversees the nation's pipeline infrastructure, which accounts for 64 percent of the energy commodities consumed in the United States.[1] Made up of the Office of Pipeline Safety and the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety.

PHMSA was created within the U.S. DOT under the Norman Y. Mineta Research and Special Programs Improvement Act of 2004,[2] which former United States President George W. Bush signed into law on November 30, 2004.

Cynthia L. Quarterman, an attorney and former government official, became the third Administrator in November 2009.[3] She resigned in October 2014.

Regulatory base[edit]

The PHMSA enforces the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968(P.L. 90-481), which was enacted in response to the Richmond, Indiana explosion, as well as the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Act of 1979 (P.L. 96-129), the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002, the Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Safety and Enforcement Act (PIPES) Act of 2006, the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 (P.L. 112), regulations (49 CFR Parts 190-199) and other statutes.

History[edit]

Prior to 2005 the U.S. Department of Transportation had no focused research organization and no separately operating administration for pipeline safety and hazardous materials transportation safety. The Norman Y. Mineta Research and Special Programs Improvement Act of 2004 provided these, with an opportunity to establish mode government budget and information practices in support of then president Bush's 'Management Agenda' initiatives.[citation needed]

Office of Hazardous Materials Safety (OHMS)[edit]

OHMS oversees the transportation of hazardous materials by air, rail, highway, and water, with the exception of bulk transportation of hazmat by vessel. OHMS promulgates a national safety program, which consists of: evaluating safety risks, developing and enforcing standards for transporting hazardous materials, educating shippers and carriers, investigating hazmat incidents and failures, conducting research, providing grants to improve emergency response to incidents.[4]

The OHMS website includes OHM guidance documents, hazmat carriers' special permits and approvals information, reports and incidents summaries, penalty action reports, registration information and forms, the Emergency Response Guidebook for First Responders, Freedom of Information Act requests, and the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) grants program.

Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS)[edit]

OPS oversees the 2.3 million miles of the natural gas pipeline system in the United States and its hazardous liquid pipelines.[5] As of May 2014 about 80 percent of the funds states spend on pipeline safety comes from PHMSA.[6]

Several agencies collaborate on the 'federal pipeline safety program', authorized through the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015 such as the Transportation Security Administration,the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.[7]

The Pipeline Risk Management Information System (PRIMIS) consists of integrity management programs originally created for transmission pipelines and has led to a reduced amount of pipeline accidents.[8] In 2001 the Liquid Integrity Management Program (LIMP)came into law, followed by the 2003 Transmission Integrity Management Program (TIMP)and the 2008 Distribution Integrity Management Program (DIMP).[citation needed]

The 'Accountable Pipeline Safety and Partnership Act of 1996' requires that OPS adopt rules requiring interstate gas pipeline operators to provide maps of their facilities to the governing body of each municipality, in which the pipeline is located. The National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) was removed for a number of months from public use after September 11, due to security concerns. In 2012, it returned with restriction of use. National Pipeline Maps can still be bought from PennWell Corporation.[9]

As of 2014, OPS and PMHSA respectively, have not set minimum qualifications for state inspectors, who lead inspection teams. In one state, for example, an inspector with less than one year's experience was allowed to lead inspections.[10]

Pipeline safety record[edit]

Regulatory failures[edit]

The 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion of a Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) gasline in San Bruno, California, a suburb south of San Francisco, killed eight people, injured 58 and destroyed much of a subdivision. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board found weak state and federal oversight.[11] The long term costs for pipeline inspection and safety upgrades will be borne at 55% by electricity rate payers per California Public Utilities Commission judgement[12] On 1 April 2014 PG&E was indicted in U.S. District Court, San Francisco, California, for multiple violations of the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968 relating to its record keeping and pipeline "integrity management" practices.[13]

In 2011, the PHMSA came under criticism for not releasing a Canadian company’s plans for managing oil spills and estimating a worst-case scenario in the event its pipeline burst in the US.[14] Then Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who oversaw the pipeline agency, acknowledged weaknesses in the program and asked Congress to pass legislation that would increase penalties for negligent operators and authorize the hiring of additional inspectors.[15] Federal records showed that although the pipeline industry reported 25 percent fewer significant incidents from 2001 through 2010 than in the prior decade, the amount of hazardous liquids being spilled remained substantial. There were more than 100 significant spills each year, a trend that dates back more than 20 years. The percentage of dangerous liquids recovered by pipeline operators after a spill dropped considerably.[15]

A May 2014 report by the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Transportation[10] found the PHMSA did not ensure "that key state inspectors are properly trained, inspections are being conducted frequently enough and inspections target the most risky pipelines".[6]

Leadership[edit]

At the end of FY2012, PHMSA employed 203 staff in total, including 135 inspection and enforcement staff.[7] Timothy P. Butters is the acting Administrator, since Cynthia L. Quarterman left in October 2014.

The PMHSA has a 'senior leadership team' of eight people with the following positions: a Deputy Administrator, a Chief Safety Officer, a Chief Counsel, two Directors and three Associate Administrators.As of November 2014 the team consists of [16]

Name Position sworn in Reference
Timothy P. Butters Deputy Administrator
Stephen L. Domotor Assistant Administrator and Chief Safety Officer
Vanessa Sutherland Chief Counsel
Jeannie Layson Director of Governmental, International, and Public Affairs January 3, 2012 [17]
Rosanne Goodwill Director of Civil Rights September 2009 [18]
Magdy El-Sibaie Ph.D. Associate Administrator for Hazardous Materials Safety September 2009 [18]
Jeffrey D. Wiese Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety August 2006 [19]
Scott Poyer Associate Administrator for Administration/Chief Financial Officer

Past leadership includes

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure: Hearing on Implementation of Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Enforcement, and Safety Act of 2006". Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  2. ^ "United States Statutes at Large, Volume 118, 108th Congress, 2nd Session". Gpo.gov. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  3. ^ Allgov.com CL Quarterman, Administrator
  4. ^ "PHMSA - About Hazmat". Phmsa.dot.gov. 2008-04-30. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  5. ^ "PHMSA - About Pipeline". Phmsa.dot.gov. 2008-04-30. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  6. ^ a b Lowy, Joan (9 May 2014). "Watchdog says federal agency fails to ensure states are overseeing gas, other pipeline safety". Star Tribune, AP. Retrieved 11 May 2014. The federal effort is so riddled with weaknesses that it's not possible to ensure states are enforcing pipeline safety. 
  7. ^ a b Paul W. Parfomak. "Keeping America’s Pipelines Safe and Secure: Key Issues for Congress, Paul W. Parfomak Specialist in Energy and Infrastructure Policy January 9, 2013" (personal communication, 13 December 2012). Congressional Research Service Report for Congress. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "Pipeline Risk Management Information System (PRIMIS)". Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. n.d. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "NPMS – Home". Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Office of Inspector General (7 May 2014). "PHMSA’s State Pipeline Safety Program Lacks Effective Management and Oversight". Audit AV-2014-041. Department of Transportation. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  11. ^ "Pacific Gas and Electric Company Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline Rupture and Fire" (Pipeline Accident Report). NTSB Number: PAR-11-01. National Transportation Safety Board. 9 September 2010. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  12. ^ Leff, Lisa (Dec 20, 2012). "PG&E customers to foot part of pipe safety costs". Associated Press. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  13. ^ "PG&E Charged with Multiple Violations of the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act". Press Release. Department of Justice. 1 April 2014. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  14. ^ "News - U.S. Regulators Refuse to Release Spill Hazard Estimates for Pipeline from Canada". AllGov. 2011-02-09. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  15. ^ a b "Pipeline Spills Put Safeguards Under Scrutiny". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  16. ^ "PHMSA - Key Officials". Phmsa.dot.gov. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  17. ^ "PHMSA - Key Officials - Patricia Klinger". Phmsa.dot.gov. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  18. ^ a b "PHMSA - Key Officials - Magdy El-Sibaie, Ph.D.". Phmsa.dot.gov. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  19. ^ "PHMSA - Key Officials - Jeffrey D. Wiese". Phmsa.dot.gov. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  20. ^ "Stacey Gerard Begins Role as First Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Assistant Administrator/Chief Safety Officer" (PDF). Phmsa.dot.gov. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  21. ^ "PHMSA - Press Release - Announcement Archive - PHMSA Press Release 02-07". Phmsa.dot.gov. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  22. ^ "ATA favors Willke appointment to PHMSA hazmat safety". Bulktransporter.com. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 

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