APGA Lauds PHMSA for Issuing the Distribution Integrity Management Programs Final Rule

Washington, D.C. (December 4, 2009) – Today the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published the long awaited final rule on Distribution Integrity Management Programs (DIMP). APGA is pleased that PHMSA has thoughtfully and appropriately addressed all the comments it received from the public, gas utilities, state regulators, APGA and others during the development of the rule. The rule allows utilities to focus their resources where those resources will have the greatest potential to improve public safety. It is flexible so that utilities of all sizes can craft a workable integrity management program.

APGA President and CEO Bert Kalisch applauded PHMSA for involving all the affected parties from the outset in crafting the DIMP rule. “We think this is the model for how rules should be developed,” Kalisch added, “We share the objective of ensuring safe, efficient distribution pipeline systems and when we listen to each other we often find common ground.”

Utilities have until August 2, 2010 to write a DIMP plan meeting the requirements spelled out in the rule, including: knowledge of the infrastructure, identify threats to pipeline integrity, evaluate and rank risk, identify and implement measures to address risks, measure performance, monitor results, and evaluate effectiveness, periodically evaluate and improve the DIMP plan and report results to PHMSA and state pipeline safety agencies.

Some of the provisions in the proposed rule that were dropped from the final include: Performance Through People (PTP) that was criticized in comments as duplicative of operator qualification and other existing rules, and plastic pipe failure reporting, which will continue to be voluntary through the Plastic Pipe Database Committee, although PHMSA has kept the reporting requirement for compression coupling failures.

The APGA Security and Integrity Foundation (SIF) is nearing completion of an on-line DIMP Plan writing tool called “SHRIMP” (Simple, Handy, Risk-based Integrity Management Plan) that will soon be available. APGA Vice President, Operations John Erickson said, “SHRIMP works like Turbo-Tax, at the front end asking a series of questions about the utility system’s construction, inspection and repair history, and at the end producing a complete written DIMP plan that addresses all the elements specified in the rule and that is customized for the unique circumstances of the utility. “SHRIMP was funded through a cooperative agreement with PHMSA and the APGA SIF and guided by an advisory group comprised of federal and state pipeline safety regulators and distribution operators. SHRIMP will be free for utilities with less than 1,000 customers and at a nominal charge for larger systems.