The Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002

The Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002, was signed into law on December 17, 2002.  It mandates significant changes and new requirements in the way that the natural gas industry ensures the safety and integrity of its pipelines. The law applies to natural gas transmission pipeline companies.

The law are places requirements on each pipeline operator to prepare and implement an “integrity management program,” that among other things requires operators to identify so-called “high consequence areas” (HCA) on their systems, conduct risk analysis of these areas, perform baseline integrity assessments of each pipeline segment, and inspect the entire pipeline system according to a prescribed schedule – using prescribed methods. 

Companies were required to identify all HCAs by December 17, 2004, and submit specific integrity management programs to the Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS), the Research and Special Projects Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation.  All pipeline segments within HCAs must be inspected and remediation plans (if required) completed by December 17, 2008, while non-HCA segments must be inspected by 2012.  All segments must be re-inspected on a 7-year cycle, with certain exceptions. 

Other provisions of the law include:

  • Participation in planned-excavation one-call notification programs
  • Increased penalties for violations of safety standards
  • Whistle-blower" protection for pipeline system employees
  • Qualification programs for employees who perform sensitive tasks
  • Authorization of some state participation in interstate pipeline oversight
  • A required multi-agency program of research, development, demonstration and standardization to enhance the integrity of pipelines
  • An interagency task force to expedite environmental reviews when necessary to expedite pipeline repairs
  • Government mapping of the pipeline system and assembling pipeline operator contact information for public dissemination.