Committee reviews PHMSA's safety oversight, management

Initiatives are underway to correct the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's lack of safety oversight and management, new agency administrator Cynthia L. Quarterman said in written testimony (.pdf file) during an April 22 hearing before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

According to a summary (.pdf file) of the hearing, two Office of Inspector General investigations found concerns with PHMSA's management and oversight of hazardous materials and explosives approvals, and recommended establishing testing requirements and formalizing guidance for classifying and approving explosives.

Quarterman said the current PHMSA staff "inherited a program that suffered from almost a decade of neglect and was seriously adrift." Staff has already addressed half of the recommendations noted in the OIG report; began conducting more in-depth reviews; and has budgeted for 16 new positions to include permit review and approval staff, enforcement inspectors, and data analysis staff, she said.

In addition, PHMSA on April 21 announced a May 1 launch date for its online special permit and approval application process.

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