Enforcement Type Glossary
PHMSA has a variety of enforcement tools at its disposal once a pipeline safety violation or inadequacy has been determined to exist. The following terms describing these various types of enforcement action are used in the tables accompanying the "Enforcement Action" reports.
Corrective Action Orders - PHMSA may issue a Corrective Action Order if it determines that a particular pipeline represents a serious hazard to life, property, or the environment. They usually address urgent situations arising out of an accident, spill, or other significant, immediate, or imminent safety or environmental concern. In a Corrective Action Order, PHMSA identifies actions that must be taken by the operator to assure safe operation. These actions may include the shutdown of a pipeline or operation at reduced pressure, physical inspection or testing of the pipeline, repair or replacement of defective pipeline segments, and similar measures. If PHMSA believes the conditions for a Corrective Action Order exist, but the Order does not need to be issued expeditiously to prevent likely serious harm to life, property or the environment, the Operator will be given reasonable notice and an opportunity for a hearing before a Corrective Action Order is issued. In these situations, a Notice of Proposed Corrective Action Order is issued to the operator. Corrective Action Orders are described in 49 CFR 190.233.
Notices of Probable Violation - Notices of Probable Violations (NOPVs) are commonly used as an enforcement tool. After routine inspections, incident investigations, or other oversight activity by authorized Federal or Interstate Agent pipeline inspectors, the PHMSA Regional Director will determine if probable violations have occurred, and, if appropriate, issue an NOPV to the operator. The NOPV alleges specific regulatory violations and, where applicable, proposes appropriate corrective action in a Compliance Order and/or Civil Penalties. The operator has a right to respond to the NOPV and to request an administrative hearing. The administrative enforcement procedures and other regulations governing the enforcement program are described in 49 CFR 190 Subpart B "Enforcement."
Notices of Amendment - PHMSA inspections, incident investigations, and other oversight activities routinely identify shortcomings in an operator's plans and procedures under PHMSA regulations. In these situations, PHMSA issues a Notice of Amendment (NOA) letter alleging that the operator's plans and procedures are inadequate and requiring that they be amended. The operator has a right to respond to the Notice and to request an administrative hearing. Notices of Amendment and the procedures for their issuance and enforcement are described in 49 CFR 190.237.
Warning Letters - For some lower risk probable violations and program deficiencies, PHMSA has the option of issuing a Warning Letter notifying the operator of alleged violations and directing it to correct them or be subject to further enforcement action. PHMSA then follows up on these items during subsequent inspections or through other interactions with the operator. Warning Letters are described in 49 CFR 190.205.
Notice of Proposed Safety Order - PHMSA may issue a Notice of Proposed Safety Order to notify an operator that a particular pipeline facility has a condition or conditions that pose a pipeline integrity risk to public safety, property, or the environment. A Notice of Proposed Safety Order addresses pipeline integrity risks that may not constitute a hazardous facility requiring immediate corrective action (see Corrective Action Order described above), but do need to be addressed over time. The Notice of Proposed Safety Order proposes measures the operator must take to address the identified risk. These can include inspection, testing, repair, or other appropriate actions to remedy the identified risk condition. Notices of Proposed Safety Order are described in 190.239.
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