49 CFR 190.239 - Safety orders.
(a) When may PHMSA issue a safety order? If the Associate Administrator finds, after notice and an opportunity for hearing under paragraph (b) of this section, that a particular pipeline facility has a condition or conditions that pose a pipeline integrity risk to public safety, property, or the environment, the Associate Administrator may issue an order requiring the operator of the facility to take necessary corrective action. Such action may include physical inspection, testing, repair or other appropriate action to remedy the identified risk condition.
(b) How is an operator notified of the proposed issuance of a safety order and what are its responses options? (1) Notice of proposed safety order. PHMSA will serve written notice of a proposed safety order under § 190.5 to an operator of the pipeline facility. The notice will allege the existence of a condition that poses a pipeline integrity risk to public safety, property, or the environment, and state the facts and circumstances that support issuing a safety order for the specified pipeline or portion thereof. The notice will also specify proposed testing, evaluations, integrity assessment, or other actions to be taken by the operator and may propose that the operator submit a work plan and schedule to address the conditions identified in the notice. The notice will also provide the operator with its response options, including procedures for requesting informal consultation and a hearing. An operator receiving a notice will have 30 days to respond to the PHMSA official who issued the notice.
(2) Informal consultation. Upon timely request by the operator, PHMSA will provide an opportunity for informal consultation concerning the proposed safety order. Such informal consultation shall commence within 30 days, provided that PHMSA may extend this time by request or otherwise for good cause. Informal consultation provides an opportunity for the respondent to explain the circumstances associated with the risk condition(s) identified in the notice and, where appropriate, to present a proposal for corrective action, without prejudice to the operator's position in any subsequent hearing. If the respondent and Regional Director agree within 30 days of the informal consultation on a plan for the operator to address each risk condition, they may enter into a written consent agreement and the Associate Administrator may issue a consent order incorporating the terms of the agreement. If a consent agreement is reached, no further hearing will be provided in the matter and any pending hearing request will be considered withdrawn. If a consent agreement is not reached within 30 days of the informal consultation (or if informal consultation is not requested), the Associate Administrator may proceed under paragraphs (b)(3) through (5) of this section. If PHMSA subsequently determines that an operator has failed to comply with the terms of a consent order, PHMSA may obtain any administrative or judicial remedies available under 49 U.S.C. 60101 et seq. and this part. If a consent agreement is not reached, any admissions made by the operator during the informal consultation shall be excluded from the record in any subsequent hearing. Nothing in this paragraph (b) precludes PHMSA from terminating the informal consultation process if it has reason to believe that the operator is not engaging in good faith discussions or otherwise concludes that further consultation would not be productive or in the public interest.
(3) Hearing. An operator receiving a notice of proposed safety order may contest the notice, or any portion thereof, by filing a written request for a hearing within 30 days following receipt of the notice or within 10 days following the conclusion of informal consultation that did not result in a consent agreement, as applicable. In the absence of a timely request for a hearing, the Associate Administrator may issue a safety order in the form of the proposed order in accordance with paragraphs (c) through (g) of this section.
(4) Conduct of hearing. An attorney from the Office of Chief Counsel, will serve as the Presiding Official in a hearing under this section. The hearing will be conducted informally, without strict adherence to formal rules of evidence in accordance with § 190.211. The respondent may submit any relevant information or materials, call witnesses, and present arguments on the issue of whether a safety order should be issued to address the alleged presence of a condition that poses a pipeline integrity risk to public safety, property, or the environment.
(5) Post-hearing action. Following a hearing under this section, the Presiding Official will submit a recommendation to the Associate Administrator concerning issuance of a final safety order. Upon receipt of the recommendation, the Associate Administrator may proceed under paragraphs (c) through (g) of this section. If the Associate Administrator finds the facility to have a condition that poses a pipeline integrity risk to public safety, property, or the environment, the Associate Administrator will issue a safety order under this section. If the Associate Administrator does not find that the facility has such a condition, or concludes that a safety order is otherwise not warranted, the Associate Administrator will withdraw the notice and promptly notify the operator in writing by service as prescribed in § 190.5. Nothing in this subsection precludes PHMSA and the operator from entering into a consent agreement at any time before a safety order is issued.
(6) Termination of safety order. Once all remedial actions set forth in the safety order and associated work plans are completed, as determined by PHMSA, the Associate Administrator will notify the operator that the safety order has been lifted. The Associate Administrator shall suspend or terminate a safety order whenever the Associate Administrator determines that the pipeline facility no longer has a condition or conditions that pose a pipeline integrity risk to public safety, property, or the environment.
(c) How is the determination made that a pipeline facility has a condition that poses an integrity risk? The Associate Administrator may find a pipeline facility to have a condition that poses a pipeline integrity risk to public safety, property, or the environment under paragraph (a) of this section:
(1) If under the facts and circumstances the Associate Administrator determines the particular facility has such a condition; or
(2) If the pipeline facility or a component thereof has been constructed or operated with any equipment, material, or technique with a history of being susceptible to failure when used in pipeline service, unless the operator involved demonstrates that such equipment, material, or technique is not susceptible to failure given the manner it is being used for a particular facility.
(d) What factors must PHMSA consider in making a determination that a risk condition is present? In making a determination under paragraph (c) of this section, the Associate Administrator shall consider, if relevant:
(1) The characteristics of the pipe and other equipment used in the pipeline facility involved, including its age, manufacturer, physical properties (including its resistance to corrosion and deterioration), and the method of its manufacture, construction or assembly;
(2) The nature of the materials transported by such facility (including their corrosive and deteriorative qualities), the sequence in which such materials are transported, and the pressure required for such transportation;
(3) The characteristics of the geographical areas where the pipeline facility is located, in particular the climatic and geologic conditions (including soil characteristics) associated with such areas;
(4) For hazardous liquid pipelines, the proximity of the pipeline to an unusually sensitive area;
(5) The population density and growth patterns of the area in which the pipeline facility is located;
(6) Any relevant recommendation of the National Transportation Safety Board issued in connection with any investigation conducted by the Board;
(7) The likelihood that the condition will impair the serviceability of the pipeline;
(8) The likelihood that the condition will worsen over time; and
(9) The likelihood that the condition is present or could develop on other areas of the pipeline.
(e) What information will be included in a safety order? A safety order shall contain the following:
(1) A finding that the pipeline facility has a condition that poses a pipeline integrity risk to public safety, property, or the environment;
(2) The relevant facts which form the basis of that finding;
(3) The legal basis for the order;
(4) The nature and description of any particular corrective actions to be required of the operator; and
(5) The date(s) by which the required corrective actions must be taken or completed and, where appropriate, the duration of the order.
(f) Can PHMSA take other enforcement actions on the affected facilities? Nothing in this section precludes PHMSA from issuing a Notice of Probable Violation under § 190.207 or taking other enforcement action if noncompliance is identified at the facilities that are the subject of a safety order proceeding.
(g) May I petition for reconsideration of a safety order? Yes, a petition for reconsideration may be submitted in accordance with § 190.243.