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Pipeline Safety Stakeholder Communications

Pipeline Safety Connects Us All

Public Awareness Programs

Public awareness and education, and damage prevention are interconnected initiatives aimed at increasing the understanding and knowledge of people who work and live near pipeline rights-of-way.

Regulatory Requirements

Federal pipeline safety regulations (49 CFR 192.616 and 49 CFR 195.440) require that each pipeline operator must develop and implement a written continuing public education program that follows the guidance provided in the American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 1162, "Public Awareness Programs for Pipeline Operators" (incorporated by reference in federal regulations).

The operator must follow the general program recommendations of API RP 1162, including baseline and supplemental requirements, unless the operator provides justification in its program or procedural manual as to why compliance with all or certain provisions of the recommended practice is not practicable and not necessary for safety. Operators of master meter or petroleum gas systems are not required to develop public awareness programs as noted above, but are subject to other specified public awareness requirements.

Under the regulations, an operator’s program must provide pipeline safety information to four stakeholder audiences, including the affected public, emergency officials, local public officials, and excavators. Operators must provide the affected public with information about how to recognize, respond to, and report pipeline emergencies. The importance of using the one-call notification system prior to excavation is to be emphasized for all stakeholders. Emergency officials and local public officials must be provided information about the location of transmission pipelines to enhance emergency response and community growth planning. Affected municipalities, school districts, businesses, and residents must be advised of pipeline locations.

API Recommended Practice 1162

API RP1162 is an industry consensus standard that provides guidance and recommendations to pipeline operators for the development and implementation of enhanced public awareness programs. It addresses various elements of such programs, including the intended audiences, the kinds of information to be communicated, frequencies and methodologies for communicating the information, and evaluation of the programs for effectiveness. Of particular significance, operators must periodically review their programs for effectiveness and enhance their programs as necessary.

Public Awareness Program Workshops

PHMSA, the pipeline industry and other stakeholders continue to work to improve the outreach and effectiveness of pipeline operator public awareness programs.

Since 2003, PHMSA has co-sponsored and conducted public workshops to gather stakeholder input into the development of the pipeline safety regulations that address pipeline operator public awareness programs and to discuss and gather input regarding regulatory inspections of those programs. Workshops were conducted in 2010, 2008, 2005, and 2003.

Regulatory Inspections

Federal and state pipeline safety personnel inspect pipeline operator public awareness programs for regulatory compliance. Public awareness inspections may assess the development, implementation, effectiveness, and continuous improvement of a pipeline operator’s program. Inspection documents such as an inspection form (PHMSA Form-21) and enforcement guidance for gas and hazardous liquid pipelines are tools inspectors use to evaluate operator compliance with public awareness program regulations. In addition, PHMSA has documented various frequently asked questions (FAQs) to facilitate understanding of applicable public awareness regulations.

Version: September 28, 2011