In 1981, the California Legislature established the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act with the intent that the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) shall exercise exclusive safety regulatory and enforcement authority over intrastate hazardous liquid pipelines. The Office of the State Fire Marshal currently regulates the safety of approximately 6,000 miles of intrastate hazardous liquid transportation pipelines. The Pipeline Safety Division consists of engineers, analytical staff, and clerical support located in northern, central and southern California. Pipeline Safety staff inspect pipeline operators to ensure compliance with federal and state pipeline safety laws and regulations. The Division is also responsible for the investigation of pipeline ruptures, fires, or accidents for cause and determination of probable violations.

 

Pipeline Safety Laws and Regulations

The Pipeline Safety Division has sole authority for the inspection and enforcement of federal and state regulations for intrastate pipelines within the state of California. Federal authority is granted through an agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The following sections of state and federal law define the Pipeline Safety Division’s authority:

The Elder Pipeline Safety Act of 1981 (California Government Code §51010-51019.1)

California Code of Regulations, Title 19 §2000-2075

Federal Law 49 U.S.C. §60101-60141

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49 Part 195

Federal Register Publication of Final Rules - Safety of Hazardous Liquid Pipelines

The United States Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is amending Federal Pipeline Safety Regulations (49 CFR Part 195) to improve the safety of pipelines transporting hazardous liquids. The new rules:

  • Extend reporting requirements to certain hazardous liquid gravity and rural gathering lines
  • Require the inspection of pipelines in areas affected by extreme weather and natural disasters
  • Require integrity assessments at least once every 10 years of onshore hazardous liquid pipeline segments located outside of high consequence areas and that are “piggable”
  • Extend the required use of leak detection systems beyond high consequence areas to all regulated, non-gathering hazardous liquid pipelines
  • Require that all pipelines in or affecting high consequence areas be capable of accommodating in-line inspection tools within 20 years, unless the basic construction of a pipeline cannot be modified to permit that accommodation.​

Additionally, PHMSA is clarifying other regulations and is incorporating Sections 14 and 25 of the PIPES Act of 2016 to improve regulatory certainty and compliance. The effective date of this final rule is July 1, 2020. More information on the new rules can be found in the Federal Register.

Electronic Notifications to the OSFM - Pipeline Safety Division

State Law requires Pipeline Operators to notify the Office of the State Fire Marshal, Pipeline Safety Division of certain activities or changes in operations. Starting December 2018, pipeline operators may send certain required notifications or requests to OSFM by email to PipelineNotification@fire.ca.gov. All notifications and requests must be on a company letterhead. Examples of common notifications and requests include:

  • Ownership Change
  • Change of Service
  • Hydrostatic Testing Notification
  • In-Line (ILI) Inspection Waiver Requests
  • Construction Notification
  • Deferred Maintenance Requests (see ADB 2016-05)

Requests and notifications sent to OSFM via email fulfil State notification requirements only and do not meet requirements for reporting to or notification of the Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA).

For questions regarding electronic notifications, please contact the Pipeline Safety Division at PipelineNotification@fire.ca.gov or by phone at (562) 497-0350.

Rule Making Activities - AB 864

The May 19, 2015 pipeline incident at Refugio Beach in Santa Barbara County spilled over 100,000 gallons of crude oil and impacted over 25 miles of coastline and ocean water. The impacts from the spill were devastating, both environmentally and economically. As a result, Assembly Bill 864 (Williams, Chapter 592, Statute of 2015) mandates the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) to develop regulations requiring the use of best available technology on new, replacement, or retrofitted pipelines near environmentally and ecologically sensitive areas in the coastal zone (Title 5, California Government Code 51013.1).

The OSFM noticed draft regulations to implement the requirements of AB 864 on February 5, 2019. The proposed regulations are not yet final. Additional rule making information can be found on the OSFM website under the Code Development and Analysis Division’s Current Rulemaking Activities section. The following link will redirect you to the OSFM Title 19 Regulations Development webpage: https://osfm.fire.ca.gov/divisions/code-development-and-analysis/title-19-development/. Follow the drop-down menu titled “PLS Intrastate Hazardous Liquids Pipelines – Best Available Technology” to draft regulation materials.  

Pipeline Safety Division Informational Meeting

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On January 5, 2016, the Pipeline Safety Division held an informational meeting for the pipeline industry. This meeting was to inform Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Operators in California of two significant pipeline safety bills (SB 295 and AB 864) that were recently signed into law. Changes to out-of-service pipeline designation were also discussed.

Potential for Damage to Pipeline Facilities Caused by Flooding, River Scour, and River Channel Migration

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PHMSA is issuing this advisory bulletin to remind all owners and operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines of the potential for damage to pipeline facilities caused by severe flooding and actions that operators should consider taking to ensure the integrity of pipelines in the event of flooding, river scour, and river channel migration. [Docket No. PHMSA-2019-0047].