Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia
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Rule 515-9-3-.01 Purpose of Procedures

The purpose and scope of the Enforcement Procedures is to describe the enforcement authority and sanctions exercised by the Georgia Public Service Commission in carrying out its duties regarding pipeline safety under the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968, as amended ( 49 U.S.C. 1671et seq.) It also prescribes the procedures governing the exercise of that authority and the imposition of those sanctions.

Rule 515-9-3-.02 Definitions

Terms used in these rules have the following meaning:

(a) "Act" means the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968, as amended ( 49 U.S.C. 1671et seq.).
(b) "Commission" means the Georgia Public Service Commission.
(c) "Gas" means natural gas.
(d) "LNG" means liquefied natural gas.
(e) "New Construction" means the act of building, a new pipeline facility, or the expansion, replacement or relocation of an existing pipeline facility (as in looping a pipeline segment, which may also be done to meet increased load requirements or to enhance reliability of the system) in order to provide new service to a customer(s) or in order to meet increased demand.
(f) "Operator" means a person who engages in the transportation of natural gas by pipeline.
(g) "Person" means any individual, firm, joint venture, partnership, corporation, association, authority, municipality, cooperative association or joint-stock association, and includes trustee, receiver, assignee or personal representative who furnishes service to the public thereof.
(h) "Pipeline" means all parts of those physical facilities through which gas or LNG moves in transportation including but not limited to pipe, valves and other appurtenance attached to pipe, compressor units, pumping units, metering stations, delivery stations, regulator stations, holders and fabricated assemblies.
(i) "Pipeline facility" means, without limitation, new and existing pipe, pipe right-of-way and any equipment, facility or building used in the transportation of gas or the treatment of gas during the course of transportation.
(j) "Pipeline Safety Director" means the Natural Gas Engineer of the Utilities Engineering Section designated by the Commission as Director.
(k) "Service Line" means a distribution line that transports gas from a common source of supply to (a) a customer meter or the connection to a customer's piping, whichever is farther downstream, or (b) the connection to a customer's piping if there is no customer meter. A customer meter is the meter that measures the transfer of gas from an operator to a consumer.
(l) "Transportation of Gas" means the gathering, transmission or distribution of gas by pipeline or its storage.

Rule 515-9-3-.03 Commission Jurisdiction

(1) The Georgia Legislature has empowered the Public Service Commission to prescribe and enforce safety standards and to regulate safety practices of persons engaged in the transportation of gas or LNG by pipeline to the extent permitted by the "Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968 ( 49 U.S.C. 1967et seq.)" and any amendments thereto as set forth and adopted in Title 46 of the Georgia Code, as amended. The Commission has delegated this responsibility to the Pipeline Safety Director and his staff. The regulations issued under the Act promulgated by the Office of Pipeline Safety of the United States Department of Transportation and published in Title 49, CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Parts 40, 191, 192, 193 and 199 apply to all pipeline companies. The safety standards of the Act apply to the design, installation, inspection, testing construction, extension, operation, replacement and maintenance of pipeline facilities. Standards affecting the design, installation, construction, initial inspection and testing are not applicable to pipeline facilities in existence on the date such standards are adopted.
(2) The Commission is authorized to prescribe additional safety standards that apply to intrastate operators. Such safety standards shall be practicable and designed to meet the needs for pipeline safety. When prescribing and enforcing such standards, the Commission will consider:
(a) relevant available pipeline safety data;
(b) whether such standards are appropriate for the particular type of pipeline transportation;
(c) the reasonableness of any proposed standards; and
(d) the extent to which such standards will contribute to public safety.
(3) Whenever the Commission finds a particular facility to be hazardous to life or property, it is empowered to require the person operating such facilities to take steps necessary to remove such hazards.

Rule 515-9-3-.04 Authority to Inspect

The Commission has the power to investigate all methods and practices of pipeline companies; to require the maintenance and filing of reports, records and other information in such form and detail as the Commission may prescribe; to enter upon and to inspect the property, buildings, plants, and office of such pipeline companies; and to inspect books, records, papers and documents relevant to the enforcement of the rules and regulations.

Rule 515-9-3-.05 Intervals of Inspection

(1) Upon presentation of appropriate credentials, the Commission or its designated employee is authorized to enter upon, inspect and examine, at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner, the records and properties of persons to the extent such records and properties are relevant to determining the compliance of such persons with the rules and regulations or Commission orders issued thereunder.
(2) Inspections shall ordinarily be conducted pursuant to one of the following:
(a) routine scheduling;
(b) a complaint received from a member of the public;
(c) information obtained from a previous inspection;
(d) pipeline accident or incident; or
(e) whenever deemed appropriate by the Commission or the Director of Gas Pipeline Safety.

Rule 515-9-3-.06 Inspection of the Operators

(1) An attempt will be made to periodically inspect every operator, with priority given to inspecting those systems with greater risk potential. In determining the potential risk of a pipeline system, the following factors may be considered:
(a) the ratio of total steel pipe to coated steel pipe;
(b) the ratio of total steel pipe to cathodically protected steel pipe;
(c) leaks per mile of pipe;
(d) leaks per number of services;
(e) unaccounted-for-gas volumes and percentages;
(f) the number of accidents or facility failures;
(g) footage of cast iron pipe in the system; and
(h) past history of the operator.
(2) The inspection will include a thorough review of the operator's records concerning inspection, operation, maintenance and emergency procedures. Field inspection will include operational checks of corrosion control provisions, overpressure and regulating equipment, odorization, repaired leaks, emergency valves and any other components of the facility.

Rule 515-9-3-.07 Verbal Notice to Operator of Violation

(1) When an inspection of an operator's records or facilities, or both, indicate that the operator is in apparent violation of a pipeline safety regulation, the investigator will give verbal notice of the alleged violation to the operator before concluding the inspection.
(2) Any documentation of physical evidence necessary to support the alleged violation may be obtained during the inspection or requested by letter immediately after the conclusion of the visit.
(3) The operator may institute on-site corrective measures when a violation exists. However, enforcement of such alleged violations will proceed.

Rule 515-9-3-.08 Written Formal Notice of Violation

After evidence of an alleged violation is collected and the violation report is written, notice and opportunity to respond will be afforded the operator by a letter from the Pipeline Safety Director. The letter will notify the operator of the results of the on-site inspection and will specifically cite the regulation(s) the operator is allegedly violating. Further, the letter may contain a proposed civil penalty or a compliance order. A written response from the operator shall be submitted to the Pipeline Safety Director within 30 days of the time the operator receives the violation notice.

Rule 515-9-3-.09 Response Options Open to the Operator

(1) Alternatives open to the operator to respond to the violation notice are:
(a) submit a written statement to the Pipeline Safety Director indicating corrective measures have achieved compliance;
(b) submit a written plan of action to the Pipeline Safety Director outlining the corrective measures that will be taken to achieve compliance and when compliance is anticipated; or
(c) request an informal conference with the Pipeline Safety Director and/or his staff to discuss the violation(s).
(2) The alleged violation(s) may be resolved at this stage if the information submitted is in accordance with Rule 515-9-3-.09(1)(a) or Rule 515-9-3-.09(1)(b) and is accepted by the Pipeline Safety Director and/or his staff. Such acceptance shall be verified by written statement issued by the Pipeline Safety Director following a reinspection of the operator's facilities. However, if the operator selects Rule 515-9-3-09(1)(c), an informal conference will be scheduled as explained in Rule 515-9-3-.10.

Rule 515-9-3-.10 Informal Conference

(1) After receiving a request for an informal conference a date and time will be arranged at this conference and the basis of the alleged violations will be reviewed. The operator may explain the company's position and may present alternatives for solution of the problem. The Gas Pipeline Safety staff will be represented by the investigator involved and by such other members of the Commission staff as designated by the Pipeline Safety Director.
(2) The violation may be resolved at this stage. If agreement cannot be reached, enforcement procedures shall continue.

Rule 515-9-3-.11 Commission Action

(1) If the proposed solution as outlined is not satisfactory to the Gas Pipeline Safety Director and/or his staff, the violation shall be referred to the Public Service Commission for formal resolution in either of the following manners:
(a) The Commission may seek an injunction or mandamus in superior court in cases where immediate action is necessary; or
(b) The Commission may issue a show cause order and/or schedule a hearing requiring the operator to demonstrate why the operator should not be subject to the penalties set forth by the O.C.G.A. Section 46-2-91. This section permits a penalty not to exceed $15,000.00 for such violation and an additional penalty not to exceed $10,000.00 for each day during which such violation continues.
(2) Any civil penalty imposed by the Commission shall be based on:
(a) the appropriateness in relation to the size of the business of the person charged;
(b) the gravity of the violation;
(c) the good faith of the person charged in attempting to achieve compliance;
(d) history of prior violations; and
(e) other matters as justice may require.
(3) The Commission may, pursuant to hearing, order an operator to take corrective action. Failure to obey such an order can result in:
(a) civil penalties under O.C.G.A. Section 46-2-91;
(b) action by the Commission against the operator in superior court;
(c) action by the Commission against the operator in any federal district court having jurisdiction.

Rule 515-9-3-.12 Hazardous Facility Order

(1) Whenever the Commission or the Director of Gas Pipeline Safety shall find a particular facility to present an imminent hazard to life or property, it shall be empowered to require the owner or operator of the facility to take immediate steps necessary to correct such hazards. Corrective action may include suspended or restricted use of the facility, physical inspection, testing, repair, replacement, or other action, as appropriate.
(2) An opportunity shall be given for a hearing as soon as practicable after the issuance of any order hereunder, in accordance with O.C.G.A. Chapter 50-13 and, in no event later than ten (10) days after suspension of the use of a major facility.
(3) The Director of Pipeline Safety shall rescind or suspend a "hazardous facility order" whenever he determines that the facility is no longer hazardous to life or property. When appropriate, however, such a recision or suspension may be accompanied by a notice of violation issued under Rule 515-9-3-.08(1) of the procedures.

Rule 515-9-3-.13 Appeal

Any operator subject to an order from the Public Service Commission may petition the Commission for reconsideration of the order under Rule 515-2-1-.08 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure. Moreover, any operator aggrieved by an order of the Public Service Commission may seek relief pursuant to O.C.G.A. Chapter 50-13.

Rule 515-9-3-.14 Utilities Protection Center

All Owners and/or Operators of a buried utility facility in Georgia shall be a member of the State-wide Utilities Protection Center.

Rule 515-9-3-.15 Damage Prevention

All Owners and/or Operators of a buried utility facility in Georgia shall comply in all respects, with Title 25, Chapter 9 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated.