NEW PIPELINE SAFETY ACT GIVES UNDEFINED AUTHORITY TO ISSUE EMERGENCY ORDERS
By William Rish, PhD  |   June 24th, 2016
   
The PIPES Act of 2016 (Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 was signed by President Obama on June 22, 2016.  Under PIPES Section 16 (Emergency Order Authority), if the Secretary of Transportation determines that an unsafe condition or practice is causing an “imminent hazard”, the Secretary may issue an emergency order imposing restrictions, prohibitions and safety measures on owners and operators of gas or hazardous liquid pipelines and facilities without prior notice.  
 
Imminent hazard is defined as existence of a condition that “presents a substantial likelihood that death, serious illness, serious personal injury, or a substantial endangerment to health property or the environment may occur”.  “Substantial likelihood” is not defined, nor are “serious” or “substantial endangerment”.  These appear to be at the discretion of the Secretary at this time.
 
However, Industry representatives will have an opportunity to participate in the development of regulations related to this new emergency order authority.  The PIPES Act of 2016 directs PHMSA to issue temporary regulations within 60 days after enactment of the Act to implement the emergency order authority provided.  PHMSA then must issue final regulations within 270 days of the date of enactment.  Pipeline facilities owners and operators should take an active role in this rulemaking process.
 
With our background in risk assessment and risk-based rule development, the Hull Risk Analysis Center (HullRAC) intends to carefully review and comment on proposed rules, especially advocating reasonable definitions for the criteria defining imminent hazard under Section 16.
 
If you have questions or want to know more please reach out to us here at HULL.
William Rish, PhD, HullRAC Director
William (Bill) is a Principal and the Vice President of Hull's Environmental Market at Hull.  He also directs The HULL Risk Analysis Center (HullRAC) and has over 30 years of experience in risk assessment, decision analysis, and environmental consulting. 
 
Bill has been on the forefront of environmental liability evaluation, including the development of probabilistic techniques for quantifying environmental liability associated with contaminated sites in financial terms, and is published expert and expert witness in risk assessment and uncertainty analysis.
 
Bill received a Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie‑Mellon University.
 
 
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