Changes may soon be coming to the way pipelines carrying hazardous materials are inspected, operated and maintained throughout the country.


This October, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) took the first step in a push to improve safety around high-risk assets by proposing a new set of regulations which, if adopted, could bring major changes to the way hazardous pipelines are managed around the country.


According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, the proposals are an “important step forward to enhance safety and protect people and the environment.” But while it’s clear these proposals are a win for public safety, those in charge of managing these assets may find themselves needing a more powerful management tool to help them monitor conditions underground and locate assets quickly and accurately.


We’ve summarized the most important details of the new proposals as well as a potential solution to the regulatory problems of the future.


Tighter standards, shorter deadlines and more testing


Under the proposed regulations, better and more frequent testing would be used to closely gauge the condition of risky pipelines and establish stricter guidelines for repairing them when issues arise.


Along with testing, the conditions for repair and replacement under PHMSA’s risk-based management framework would be expanded, creating shorter repair timelines for critical problems and putting stricter standards in place for pressure tests.


Better data requires better systems


The proposed regulations not only tighten existing guidelines, but also create a whole new requirement for those operating high-risk pipelines around collecting and integrating data.


Under the proposal, all hazardous liquid pipelines would be required to have a system for detecting leaks as well as an established timeline for inspections following extreme weather events or natural disasters, making fast asset location and identification key.


These regulations would also require operators to integrate the data they already have, including:


       Operating environments

       Pipeline condition

       Known manufacturing and/or construction defects


A system designed for a more regulated future


Whether these new proposals are adopted by federal regulators or not, there’s no doubt this is the first step in what is sure to be a larger push to regulate hazardous pipelines throughout the nation. Fortunately, there are a number of tools on the market today designed to mark, locate, identify and manage underground assets quickly and easily.


The InfraMarker System accomplishes this by integrating a number of technologies into a simple, cloud-based management system that connects those working in the field to a centralized database back at the office.


InfraMarker combines RFID, magnetic locating, cloud data management and get-locating software to support all subsurface systems including gas, oil, and other hazardous material pipelines.


Quick and easy asset identification


When weather events, natural disasters or other potential problem put assets at risk, InfraMarker lets field teams locate and identify assets for inspection as much as five times faster than using traditional GPS location alone.  All updated data is automatically sent to InfraMarker’s cloud data storage system so administrators can view, edit and append data as needed.


Simple, standardized equipment


InfraMarker can also mark and identify all types of underground assets using one frequency and one type of tag, giving users a spend and inventory advantage over systems that require the locator to select different tags or frequencies to identify the asset.


Field technicians can easily mark or locate many different types of utilities without having to have different tags for each utility type.


Full GIS integration and auditability


While InfraMarker provides a low-cost infrastructure management system for those in need of one, all InfraMarker data can be imported into an existing GIS system, making it a powerful addition to the tools you already use.


InfraMarker logs location, date, and key asset information to populate the company GIS and provides physical verification in the field without having to dig for the asset––a fully auditable system that will likely be an essential when adhering to broader regulations in the future.


Click here to learn more about The InfraMarker Infrastructure Marking System or contact us today to get started with a free 90-day trial.