The Pipeline Safety Encyclopedia
Reprinted from Pipeline and Gas Industry, May 1997
(Note: not all figures are available for viewing)
Pipe line safety regulations available for computer access
Joseph C. Caldwell,
For the first time in the 28-year history of the Federal Pipeline Safety Regulatory Program, a broad range of information relating to pipe line safety regulations, development and implementation is easily accessible.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Pipeline Safety and the American Gas Association (AGA) have combined efforts with ViaData Inc., Sugar Land, Texas, to make pipe line regulatory information quickly available by way of the computer.
WinDOT™—Pipeline Safety Encyclopedia is a new way through Windows Help of having access to the complete pipe line safety regulations (49 CFR Parts 190-199 and Part 40), interpretations, amendments, historical code documents and the AGA Gas Piping Technology Committee's (GPTC) Guide.
In addition, the software includes DOT annual report and accident forms that can be filled out on-line and printed to any laser printer. This new format makes hundreds of pages of information and drawings that were previously located in many DOT files and dockets in Washington, D.C. easily accessible.
Windows interface. WinDOT uses the standard Microsoft Windows and Windows Help interface. Any specific code section interpretation or amendment can be looked up by using a nested table of contents to quickly move to the desired topic area (Fig. 1). Reference to specific words or phrases throughout the material can be found rapidly using ViaData's enhanced search function (Fig. 2). A new function allows the user to type in any word or phrase and then search the entire database.
Interpretations. The DOT written interpretations are available for the first time in easily-accessible computer form with over 1,400 interpretations and amendments included. Each interpretation is keyed to the specific code section to which it applies. Interpretations started in the early 1970s soon after the initial regulations were issued. These letters explain DOT's position on the specific code interpreted and can be a key factor when used as a guide to code compliance. An interpretation is a legal extension of the regulation for a specific situation (Fig. 3). Interpretational drawings also are available with the system (Fig. 4).
History. The history of most rules starting with the initial notice through the final rule including each amendment can be tracked by date and Federal Register cite. The preambles to each step help the system user understanding the rule in that they provide background and reasons for the DOT decisions at each step along the rulemaking process (Fig. 5).
A summary table provides a quick reference to amendments, dates implemented, and code section affected (Fig. 6). There also is a jump to the appropriate amendment at the end of the code section.
Waivers. In regulatory terms, a waiver is an exemption or relief to a regulation based on circumstances relating to a specific situation. Even though waivers undergo substantial scrutiny, DOT has issued 78 waivers since the pipe line safety program went into effect. In the event a problem crops up, WinDOT allows the operator to search for similar situations that have been waived and provides background for similar action to obtain relief.
At times, DOT issues waivers to operators permitting deviation from the code (Fig. 7).
AGA committee guide. The Gas Pipe Line Technology Committee (GPTC) Guide provides gas pipe line operators with comprehensive material to assist in complying with the federal regulations. Basically, it is the industry's "how to" guide. It also includes DOT annual report and accident forms, which can be filled in online, and the totals are calculated for you when running Windows Microsoft Word. No other word processing will work. The system allows operators to fill in these forms on-line and the totals are calculated. Then, using a quality laser printer, DOT acceptable forms can be produced. Forms for drugs and alcohol report are included in the drug module.
The AGA's practical GPTC Guide material is linked directly into the code section of Parts 191 and 192 (Fig.8).
DOT report forms. There are a number of DOT report forms operators may need to complete. These forms are provided in Microsoft Word format and contain built-in instructions, self checks, and perform arithmetic, if necessary. The forms can be filled in online then printed for filing with DOT.
This program can help operating personnel meet regulatory compliance objectives, understanding the purpose and details of a regulation and maintaining records and history facts of their systems. It also can assist legal departments in preparing for plaintiff or defense action in litigation.
The system is available on CD ROM. Minimum system requirements are 386 CPU, Windows 3.0, CD ROM drive and hard disk, 3.5-in. floppy.
It installs quickly and neatly, without modifying startup files. Once installed, just click on the icon, and regulations, interpretations, and compliance methods will be supported, including search, copy and annotate and print topic. The information can be copied to your word document for ease of use and the exact document can be referred to without question.
WinDOT is available on a subscription basis in modular format covering five subject areas:
- Gas Pipeline Regulations covering 49 CFR Parts 190, 191, 192, 193, 198, including all amendments and fill-in printable forms
- DOT Interpretations for all parts of the Gas Regulations
- Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Regulations covering 49 CFR Parts 190, 194, 195, 198, including all amendments and fill-in printable report forms
- DOT Interpretations for all parts of the Hazardous Liquid Regulations
- DOT Drug and Alcohol Regulations 49 CFR 199, 40 and Redbook Q & As, including all amendments and fill-in printable report forms.