The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has issued a stay of enforcement to state pipeline safety program managers, pipeline operators and operators of gas storage and liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities.
The stay of enforcement means PHMSA will temporarily halt its compliance enforcement, which includes operator qualification, control room management and employment drug testing requirements. The agency made the decision in response to the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on natural gas operators.
Normally, PHMSA requires that natural gas operators in these settings met certain qualifications and standards, including a set amount of service hours and specialized training programs. Operators, however, have had difficulty meeting one or more of these requirements due to personnel and resource constraints because of the pandemic.
PHMSA also encourages state pipeline safety partners to consider suspending certain enforcement efforts for noncompliance to ensure prompt and efficient pipeline safety activities. Despite the relaxed enforcement, operators should still ensure safety and use trained, non-impaired workers to handle operation and maintenance tasks.
More details on the stay of enforcement mandate can be found here.