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Gas distribution lines must expand use of safety valves within 6 months

Gas distributionsystem operators soon will have to install additional safety valves on certainservice lines, according to a final rule from the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous MaterialsSafety Administration.

Under the rule,slated to be published in the next few days in the Federal Register, pipelineoperators must begin installingexcess-flow valves on new or replacement service lines leading to multifamilyresidences and small commercial buildings.

On service lines connected to larger commercial andindustrial customers that have meters allowing more than 1 Mcf/hour of gasflow, operators will have to install either excess-flow valves or manualshutoff valves near the service mains.

Excess-flow valves detect unexpectedly high volumes of gasflowing on a pipe, which could indicate a break in the line. On detecting sucha high volume, the valves automatically block the flow, reducing the risk offire or explosion.

The rule will take effect six months after it is publishedin the Federal Register.

PHMSA estimated that 4,448 operators will be affected by therule. About 70% of those are small operators that will need to comply withnotification requirements, and roughly 30% are gas distribution companies thatwill need to install valves and comply with the notification requirements.

PHMSA estimated that the rule's benefits over a half-century— in the form of fewer fatalities, fewer injuries, less lost product andreduced property damage — would be $5.5 million per year, compared with acompliance cost of about $10.6 million per year.

"Industry has already shown a to expand [excess-flowvalve] applications, recognizing that EFVs have the potential to ," PHMSA said.

The rule addresses a congressional mandate and a NationalTransportation Safety Board recommendation, PHMSA noted, adding that similarregulations have been effective when applied to single-family residences.