US Department of Transportation proposes new pipeline valve regulations

The US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has proposed a rulemaking that would revise federal pipeline safety regulations by requiring the installation of remotely controlled or automatic shutoff valves on certain pipelines.

The published Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is for certain newly constructed or entirely replaced natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines. The rule is expected to enhance safety by mitigating the consequences of large-volume pipeline spills and establishing minimum standards for detecting ruptures or leaks.

Commenting on the proposal, US transportation secretary Elaine Chao said: “This rule will improve critical safety requirements for the next generation of energy pipelines as US energy production continues to grow.”

The proposed rule requires that remote-control or automatic shutoff valves be installed on new or replaced pipelines greater than six inches in diameter. Leak detection systems must also be able to close valves to isolate a ruptured pipeline segment within just 40 minutes.

“This proposal is backed by extensive research that supports the use of remotely controlled and automated valves as both cost-effective and capable of minimising potential delays between the identification and isolation of a pipeline release,” added PHMSA administrator Skip Elliott.

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