The announcement by the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will see leak detection extended beyond high consequence areas (HCA) as of July 1st, 2020.

The move will see thousands of miles of hazardous liquid pipelines through the US covered. In addition, areas that are exposed to extreme weather conditions and natural disasters will be scrutinized further. Rural gathering lines are not included as part of the widened regulations.

Pipeline integrity checks will be increased so that these are assessed at least once every ten years. New lines built after Oct 1, 2019, will need leak detection within one year after the final rule is published, with existing covered (buried) lines given five years to install leak detection systems following the publication of the rule. Offshore gathering lines will be exempt from the latest regulations update and rules. It is important to note that new computational leak detection systems will still need to comply with the applicable requirements in API RP 1130.

However, the new rules do not appear to add changes to the regulations concerning specialist leak detection system performance currently.

Adrian Kane, Vice-President, Business Development, North America for Atmos International said: “Most modern leak detection systems cover the entire pipeline instead of just HCAs so many non-HCA miles of pipeline are already covered by existing systems but there will be many pipelines that now require leak detection to meet federal regulations that previously did not. 

“Hazardous fluid leaks cause a lot of damage and clean-up expense even outside of HCAs.  Having an effective leak detection system will minimize the spill size and reduce damage significantly making any new leak detection system a worthwhile investment.”

The new rules can be found here:

Categories: Industry update

By: Peter Han
Date: 26 November 2019