49 CFR 190.203 - Inspections and investigations.
(a) Officers, employees, or agents authorized by the Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety, PHMSA, upon presenting appropriate credentials, are authorized to enter upon, inspect, and examine, at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner, the records and properties of persons to the extent such records and properties are relevant to determining the compliance of such persons with the requirements of 49 U.S.C. 60101 et seq., or regulations or orders issued thereunder.
(b) Inspections are ordinarily conducted pursuant to one of the following:
(1) Routine scheduling by the Regional Director of the Region in which the facility is located;
(2) A complaint received from a member of the public;
(3) Information obtained from a previous inspection;
(5) Pipeline accident or incident; or
(6) Whenever deemed appropriate by the Associate Administrator.
(c) If the Associate Administrator or Regional Director believes that further information is needed to determine appropriate action, the Associate Administrator or Regional Director may notify the pipeline operator in writing that the operator is required to provide specific information within 30 days from the time the notification is received by the operator, unless otherwise specified in the notification. The notification must provide a reasonable description of the specific information required. An operator may request an extension of time to respond by providing a written justification as to why such an extension is necessary and proposing an alternative submission date. A request for an extension may ask for the deadline to be stayed while the extension is considered. General statements of hardship are not acceptable bases for requesting an extension.
(d) To the extent necessary to carry out the responsibilities under 49 U.S.C. 60101 et seq., the Administrator, or the Associate Administrator, may require testing of portions of pipeline facilities that have been involved in, or affected by, an accident. However, before exercising this authority, the Administrator, or the Associate Administrator, shall make every effort to negotiate a mutually acceptable plan with the owner of those facilities and, where appropriate, the National Transportation Safety Board for performing the testing.
(e) If a representative of the U.S. Department of Transportation inspects or investigates an accident or incident involving a pipeline facility, the operator must make available to the representative all records and information that pertain to the event in any way, including integrity management plans and test results. The operator must provide all reasonable assistance in the investigation. Any person who obstructs an inspection or investigation by taking actions that were known or reasonably should have been known to prevent, hinder, or impede an investigation without good cause will be subject to administrative civil penalties under this subpart.
(f) When OPS determines that the information obtained from an inspection or from other appropriate sources warrants further action, OPS may initiate one or more of the enforcement proceedings prescribed in this subpart.