Gas Distribution Integrity Management Program
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published the final rule establishing integrity management requirements for gas distribution pipeline systems on December 4, 2009 (74 FR 63906). The effective date of the rule is February 12, 2010. Operators are given until August 2, 2011 to write and implement their program.
PHMSA previously implemented integrity management regulations for hazardous liquid and gas transmission pipelines. These regulations aim to assure pipeline integrity and improve the already admirable safety record for the transportation of energy products. Congress and other stakeholders expressed interest in understanding the nature of similarly focused requirements for gas distribution pipelines. Significant differences in system design and local conditions affecting distribution pipeline safety preclude applying the same tools and management practices as were used for transmission pipeline systems. Therefore, PHMSA took a slightly different approach for distribution integrity management, following a joint effort involving PHMSA, the gas distribution industry, representatives of the public, and the National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives to explore potential approaches.
The regulation requires operators, such as natural gas distribution companies to develop, write, and implement a distribution integrity management program with the following elements:
PHMSA has developed and continues to enhance guidance to help the public and the affected industry understand the requirements of the final rule in the form of FAQs.