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PHMSA Proposes to Collect Additional Data for Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Accidents

On April 23, 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a notice in the Federal Register requesting comments on its proposal to collect additional data on hazardous liquid pipeline accidents.  Under the current regime, operators are required to provide less data when submitting an accident report for certain small volume releases (i.e., at least 5 gallons but less than 5 barrels) that do not result in additional environmental consequences, significant property damage, or personal injuries or fatalities.  PHMSA estimates that approximately half of the accident reports submitted in 2011 and 2012 involved these kinds of low consequence releases.  PHMSA uses the information collected from these reports to identify short- and long-term trends in the pipeline industry and for inspection planning and risk assessment, and the agency has determined that the same information should be collected for both low consequence and more significant releases.  PHMSA is also proposing to revise its instructions for determining the amount of volume spilled and recovered as a result of a hazardous liquid pipeline accident.  Citing concern with the data obtained since the agency revised those instructions three years ago, PHMSA is proposing to require that the reported volume spilled include all product exiting the pipeline system, and that the reported volume recovered include all product collected during the spill response.  PHSMA is also proposing to incorporate its information collection for hazardous liquid pipeline leak detection systems into its recordkeeping and accident reporting information collection for hazardous liquid pipeline operators.