Pipeline Damage Prevention
On September 1, 2007, the Railroad Commission of Texas (Commission) implemented the Underground Pipeline Damage Prevention Rules [16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §18.1 - §18.12]. These rules are in accordance with Texas Utilities Code, Chapter 251, and apply to anyone who is or will be moving earth near an intrastate underground pipeline containing flammable, toxic, or corrosive gas, a hazardous liquid or carbon dioxide.
The following questions and answers have been compiled to help pipeline operators and excavators in Texas better understand 16 TAC, Chapter 18.
When a pipeline company is excavating is it the responsibility of the pipeline operator or the contracted excavator to make the notification calls?
In accordance with 16 TAC §18.3, it is the responsibility of the person performing the excavation.
Is the Texas Department of Transportation exempt from reporting damage?
16 TAC §18.1(d)(1) refers to an exemption for those facilities owned by a company located in a secured facility of that company. If a company owned 100% percent of a pipeline, but only 25% of the facility are they exempted or not?
No. The operator must be in 100 percent control of the entire pipeline and 100 percent control of the entire facility location.
How many positive response attempts is an operator required to make, to an excavator, in order to satisfy the requirements in §18.3(b)?
The operator must provide a positive response per 16 TAC §18.5(a). The operator should make sure that the attempt is fully documented so that if and when an excavator makes a second call, as required, that the operator can prove that a positive response was attempted on the first call and another positive response was made for the second call [16 TAC §18.5(b)]. “Fully documented” means: phone or fax number dialed, or email address used; the time and date of the positive response; and confirmation that the positive response was successful. If it was not successful, document what the problem was in making the positive response (busy signal, wrong number, etc.).
What should an operator do if they have no underground pipeline facilities in conflict with the excavation area and a specific method of positive response was not given by the excavator to the one-call center?
The operator may choose the method of positive response, such as by fax, phone, email, pages or written correspondence in accordance with 16 TAC §18.2(17).
Does a pipeline project have to be white-lined
What are the parameters of the protocols listed in 16 TAC §18.3(d)
The Pipeline Safety Division offers an interpretation of 16 TAC §18.3(d), which refers to the a face-to-face meeting between the operator and excavator to discuss excavation activities and establish protocols.
1. The interval between each notice refers to the time allotted for the marking of the facilities. For example, if an operator and excavator agree to an interval of 7 days, the excavator must contact the notification center every 7 days to ensure that the marks are properly refreshed.
2. The scope of the ticket refers to the area being excavated and specifically the description of the project provided on the ticket.
3. The life of a ticket refers to the length of time a ticket will remain “open” or valid. For example, for a large project requiring several months to complete, the operator and excavator may agree upon a specific time period, such as 90 days.
4. The schedule of excavation work refers to the manner and the timing of excavation activities.
If a ticket size is deemed to be too large in 16 TAC §18.3(d) and an operator does not have facilities impacted by the project is the operator required to enter into protocols with the excavator for the project? If not, how should this be documented?
No, protocols are not required. However, a face-to-face meeting between the operator and excavator is still required with the excavator, because at the time the ticket size is determined to be “too large” the operator may not know if their facilities are impacted. The decision that protocols are not needed should be documented by both the excavator and operator.
What is the time frame for the protocols to be initiated in accordance with 16 TAC §18.3(d)?
What happens if a face-to-face meeting between the operator and excavator is held after the 48 working hours has expired and the operator has not yet marked a facility because the issues being discussed have not been resolved or a party is unwilling to agree to and document a process?
Exploration and production operations are exempt from participating in a one-call system provided they are not in a public or government right-of way. Are they also exempt from making a call and following the requirements of an excavator if they are digging?
Is it possible for an operator to have to make two or more positive responses? For example, if an excavator wants the pipe to be marked in addition to receiving a phone call and email, does the operator have to respond using all of those methods?
No, an operator will only have to make one type of positive response in accordance with 16 TAC §18.5(a). The marking of a pipeline is a type of positive response. If an operator needs to notify an excavator of an “all clear” then a method chosen by the excavator shall be used.
16 TAC §18.5(d) requires an operator to respond within 4-hours of a notice of damage to their facility. What does respond mean?
Can the diameter of the pipe be on the stake or flag?
Yes. Further, for pipelines greater than six inches, this information is required or every other marker in accordance with 16 TAC §18.8(g).
How many working days does an operator have to report damage using the online Texas Damage Reporting Form (TDRF)?
If an operator damages their own line, will they have to fill out a TDRF?
Will an operator be required to submit a TDRF on damage to their system by their own contracted excavator?
Does an operator have to report excavation damages found during anomaly digs?
Will exceptions be made for right-of-way (ROW) encroachments by landowners who damage pipeline facilities? For example, landowners, such as ranchers, and farmers who routinely work on the pipeline’s ROW without calling for locates.
No. Both professional excavators and those non-professionals, such as landowners, homeowners, or other people not routinely involved in excavation activities, are an evacuators as defined by 16 TAC §18.2(5) and are required to comply with this rule.