The US Pipeline & Hazardous Safety Administration issued a final rule amending federal safety regulations for plastic pipelines that transport natural and other gases. The final rule’s updates aim to improve safety, allow for expanded use of plastic pipes, and allow or require the use of certain materials or practices, the agency said.
“Advancements in plastic pipe design and manufacturing have resulted in products that are much safer today than they were 20 years ago,” PHMSA Administrator Skip Elliott said. “These regulatory updates will significantly contribute to advancing public safety.”
The final rule will take effect on Jan. 22, 2019.
Updates consider the changing technologies and issues affecting plastic pipe, PHMSA said. They address concerns with installation and operational safety issues associated with plastic pipe, as observed by federal and state inspectors during routine field activities, it said.
Several petitions PHMSA received from manufacturers asked the agency to consider regulatory updates for plastic pipe that align with new manufacturing and design innovations, as well as current best practices in installation, it added.
PHMSA said the final rule will apply only to new, repaired, and replaced pipelines. It said regulatory updates include:
• An increased design factor for polyethylene pipe.
• Updated standards governing the use, maximum pressure limits, and diameters for pipelines made of polyamide 11 and 12 thermoplastics.
• New and expanded plastic pipe installation standards to help mitigate contact with other underground utilities and structures.
• Other installation and operational-related provisions for plastic pipe and plastic pipe components.
PHMSA noted that because of the final rule’s features, the cost of materials to produce new plastic pipe will be reduced by about 10%, resulting in a $32 million/year material cost saving for gathering, transmission, and distribution operators.