Pipeline Regulation

PHMSA must improve state pipeline safety oversight: audit

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Washington – The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration must make improvements to its oversight of state pipeline safety programs, concludes an audit released May 7 by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General.

The National Transportation Safety Board called for the review after it determined that weaknesses in PHMSA’s oversight of California’s pipeline safety program contributed to a deadly 2010 explosion in San Bruno, CA.

OIG found that PHMSA does not provide states with accurate and updated guidelines, policies and procedures to ensure they follow federal pipeline safety regulations. OIG also determined that PHMSA does not complete financial audits of suspension grant funds, which are provided to financially challenged states to expand their pipeline safety programs.

The office recommends that PHMSA update and improve its guidelines to states on staff sizes, inspector training, program evaluations and risk analysis – as well as create and implement auditing plans for states’ use of grants.

PHMSA concurred or partially concurred with each recommendation, and OIG requested the agency provide further information within 30 days on how it will implement the recommendations.