Operations & Safety


APGA represents America's publicly owned natural gas local distribution companies (LDCs), and the safety of their community and customers is both our and our members' top priority.

In addition, APGA organizes events like the annual APGA Operations Conference with a specific goal to improve the reliability, operational efficiency, and regulatory environment in which public gas systems operate. 


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Our membership provides us with access to what’s going on in the industry as a whole, best practices that we review, evaluate and potentially implement, and learning a vast amount of information in one centralized location. APGA has been a vital tool for our utility.

Jeff Thompson, Deputy City Manager & General Manager of Utilities for the City of Boerne, Texas
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Best Practice Sharing

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Operations & Safety Committee


APGA's Operations & Safety Committee brings together volunteer APGA members to enhance the safety and reliability of public gas system operations. The committee provides information and services to APGA members and other stakeholders on the regulatory requirements and best practices for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of natural gas systems.

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Join the Operations & Safety Committee!

We welcome any interested APGA member to join our committee! Simply fill out the survey below or email info@apga.org with your interest and we'll get you started!

APGA SOAR Program


APGA member systems take great pride in their ability to deliver natural gas safely and efficiently to over 5 million customers in 37 states. APGA is pleased to announce the System Operational Achievement Recognition (SOAR) program where public natural gas systems that have achieved excellence in the operation of their natural gas utility can help share best practice information with their peers.

SOAR focuses on commitment to excellence in four areas:

  • System integrity
  • System improvement
  • Employee safety
  • Workforce development

Applications will be reviewed by a team of experts from the APGA Operations & Safety Committee and will be awarded a rating based on a total cumulative score of points achieved from the program criteria in each of the four areas. Learn more about SOAR.



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Emergency Preparedness

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APGA Mutual Aid Program


With numerous weather and outage related incidents throughout the country, it has become ever apparent that APGA members are ready and eager to send aid. APGA has created the new Mutual Aid Program to allow utilities to provide and receive aid from natural gas system program participants from around the country in the event of a disaster or emergency situation – a critical component during a scenario requiring an urgent response.

Participation in the Mutual Aid Program is voluntary, but APGA encourages as many members as possible to sign the Mutual Aid Agreement form in order to create a robust and effective Mutual Aid Program. Visit the Mutual Aid Program webpage.
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Join the Mutual Aid Program

Fill out the form and send to mutualaid@apga.org.



Severe Weather Preparation


It is always is a good for APGA members to review their public safety messages, emergency plans, and mutual aid agreements & contacts.

Reminding customers of the signs of natural gas leaks is important during weather related events. When appropriate, it may be a best practice to include customer safety messages on the front of your gas utility website. For example, you can highlight:

  1. How should they recognize a gas leak by the odor?
  2. What should they do in the event that they smell gas?
  3. If their gas meter turns off, what should they do?
  4. In the event that there of flooding, should they attempt to move any gas appliances?


Additional Information & Resources

Click on the name of the resource view more information about how it can help emergency planning.

DOT has created a Routing Hotline.

"A new regional disaster transportation routing hotline service brought to you by FEMA and the US Department of Transportation's Office of Emergency Response and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration... offered during federally declared emergencies... the services aggregates "rod availability status" data from multiple sources and provides real-time routing directs to approved callers."

Click Here for more information.

PHMSA has issued an Emergency Stay of Enforcement to interstate pipeline and LNG operators that may be impacted by Hurricane Dorian. You can read the document on the PHMSA website here and on the APGA Community here if you want to ask questions of APGA staff and members. They are also issuing a letter to their state partners in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina letting them know PHMSA will not object to a waiver they may issue to a state regulated company for Dorian related deviations from D&A and OQ requirements. The Stay goes into effect September 1, 2019, and will remain in effect for 45 days from the issuance date unless extended by PHMSA.

  • Alternative and renewable fuels
  • Idle-reduction measures
  • Fuel economy improvements
  • New transportation technologies, as they emerge

Clean Cities' goals and accomplishments are listed at http://www1.eere.energy.gov/cleancities/accomplishments.html

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration


Click Here
to find a list of Emergency Declarations, Waivers, Exemptions & Permits<

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Compliance Tools

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Public Awareness Materials

APGA Sample Materials
The Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002 requires each gas utility and pipeline operator to evaluate the effectiveness of its public awareness programs and make improvements where necessary. Operations and communications experts from the American Petroleum Institute (API), America American Public Gas Association (APGA), Interstate Natural Gas Association, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) and American Gas Association developed API Recommended Practice 1162 to provide guidance for what constitutes an effective public awareness program. To assist our members to comply with these new requirements, APGA has developed this model distribution public awareness plan. View Public Awareness Materials (APGA Members Only Resource).

Industry Pipeline Aware Initiative
Pipeline AwareAs an industry, companies operating energy pipelines are working with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) and other stakeholders to review and update the “Public Awareness Programs for Pipeline Operators” guidelines for safety communication, known as American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 1162. Learn more about Pipeline Aware here.


GOAL Program

APGA is pleased to partner with Blue Otter Solutions to offer a cost-effective, turnkey program that makes staying compliant an economical and viable option for any service area. The GOAL Program helps you gain insight and knowledge that makes managing your utility’s growth and development easier.  Learn more about GOAL here.


Benchmark Tool

The APGA Benchmarking Module is now available for APGA members at benchmark.apga.org. This web-based module allows an APGA member to compare their system with national averages or self-defined peer groups on more than 60 different operational statistics such as leaks per mile of main by cause, MCF sales by type of customer, and damages per excavation ticket. Learn more about the APGA Benchmark Tool here.

APGA Security and Integrity Foundation

Early in 2004, the APGA Board of Directors approved the necessary funding to create the APGA Security and Integrity Foundation (SIF).  The APGA Security and Integrity Foundation (SIF), a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, is dedicated to promoting the security, operational integrity and safety of natural gas distribution and utilization facilities.

Distribution Integrity Management: SHRIMP Tool
SHRIMP (“Simple, Handy, Risk-based Integrity Management Plan”) is an online tool that operators of natural gas distribution systems use to create a complete, written Distribution Integrity Management Program (DIMP) plan customized for the specific needs of their system. The APGA Security and Integrity Foundation (SIF), with support from Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and state pipeline safety regulators, offers SHRIMP so utilities can have access to an affordable DIMP tool. SHRIMP is designed to create accurate written DIMP plans with ease. SHRIMP asks questions about a user’s infrastructure and creates a DIMP plan ready to sign and implement. Learn more about SHRIMP here.

Anti-Drug and Alcohol Tool
Department of Transportation (DOT) drug and alcohol testing regulations require many operators of gas, hazardous liquid and carbon dioxide pipelines to have drug and alcohol prevention programs. The APGA Security and Integrity Foundation (SIF), with support from PHMSA, created an affordable, web-based Anti-Drug & Alcohol Plan Development Tool that will help detect prohibited drug and alcohol use in the workplace. With the SIF Anti-Drug & Alcohol tool, any change to regulation is incorporated automatically and notifies users keeping them one step ahead. Learn more about the Anti-Drug and Alcohol Tool here.

Plastic Pipe Database Committee

A group of representatives of federal and state regulatory agencies and the natural gas and plastic pipe industries have come together and formed The Plastic Pipe Data Collection Initiative. The Plastic Pipe Database Committee (PPDC) is composed of representatives from APGA, the American Gas Association (AGA), Plastics Pipe Institute (PPI), National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives (NAPSR), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). For the past 16 years, the PPDC has been receiving information on in-service plastic piping system failures and/or leaks with the objective of identifying possible performance issues. Learn more about the PPDC here.

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Regulatory Advocacy

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APGA Monthly Pipeline Safety Regulatory Updates

APGA staff provides monthly updates on Pipeline Safety Regulatory activities. Go to the Monthly Pipeline Safety Regulatory Updates Library (APGA Members Only).

Latest Pipeline Safety Regulatory Update (Members Only)

APGA Federal Comments

Pipeline safety is regulated by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). APGA actively participates in PHMSA’s rulemaking process through written comments, participation in public workshops, and during PHMSA’s Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee Meetings. Click Here for a list of APGA’s written comments on current and recent pipeline safety rulemakings.

 

APGA State Comments

Pipeline safety statues allow for states to assume safety authority over gas distribution and intrastate transmission pipelines. Thirty-eight states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico provide serve in that capacity. Each of those states are permitted to apply more stringent regulations above and beyond the federal minimum standard through. When requested by an APGA member, APGA will participate in a state pipeline safety rulemaking process. Click Here for a list of APGA’s written comments on state based pipeline safety issues.

Pipeline Safety Reauthorization & PIPES Act

Every four years Congress must pass legislation to reauthorize the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to regulate the safety of the nation’s pipeline system. The three committees with jurisdiction over pipeline safety are the Senate Committee on Commerce, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce and the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure.

  • Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act - This bipartisan law signed on June 22, 2016, strengthens PHMSA’s safety authority and includes many provisions that will help PHMSA fulfill its mission of protecting people and the environment by advancing the safe transportation of energy and other hazardous materials. Read more at phmsa.dot.gov/pipes-act.
  • 2019 Pipeline Safety Reauthorization Activities
      • APGA submitted comments to the House Energy and Commerce Committee (read here) and APGA supports the following positions:
        • Funding - Congress should continue funding PHMSA at historic levels. APGA also believes it is important that state programs receive the support needed to appropriately staff and train state pipeline safety inspectors.
        • Addressing Existing Mandates - All stakeholders are dedicated and committed to addressing existing outstanding Congressional mandates that came out of previous Pipeline Safety Act reauthorizations. Additional priorities have the potential to distract from this focus. Congress should minimize new requirements that may distract from the completion of existing mandates.
        • New Mandates - APGA supports meaningful mandates that encourage operators to add layers of protection that prevent pipeline incidents. Congress should ensure that any new mandates for PHMSA rulemakings are scalable and flexible due to variability in gas system size, geography, age, etc. APGA opposes actions against any pipelines that can negatively impact the safety or operations of those pipelines.

 

Pipeline Safety Management Systems


In 2015 during the aftermath of several significant large pipeline incidents and at the recommendation of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, the pipeline industry came together to develop a safety management framework for pipelines. The goal of this framework was to further assist pipeline operators to achieve the ultimate goal of zero incidents. The result of this effort was the publication of the American Petroleum Institute’s Recommended Practice 1173, titled: Pipeline Safety Management Systems (PSMS). Go to the Pipeline Safety Management Systems (PSMS) Planning webpage.

PHMSA Advisory Bulletins

As an agency committed to ensuring the safe transport of hazardous materials within the nation’s 2.3 million pipeline system, PHMSA utilizes and presents public notices and advisory bulletins as sources of information collection, public meetings, safety advisories and general notices. Additionally, the notices and advisory bulletins are linked to the Federal Register as an official public record. Go to the PHMSA Advisory Bulletins webpage.

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Conferences and Webinars

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APGA Operations Conference


The APGA Operations conference is an annual event that 
features speakers and panels of experts on topics such as integrity management, regulatory compliance, research and development, and new technology. The conference will also include an exposition of the latest in products and services for natural gas distribution operations. Learn more about the Operations Conference here.

APGA Educational Webinars


APGA holds many operations-focused webinars during the year. View upcoming webinars and recordings of past webinar at www.apga.org/webinars. Attending and viewing APGA Educational Webinars are a benefit of APGA membership.

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Membership Recognition

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APGA SOAR Award Winners


Attaining the APGA SOAR shows board members, community leaders, service providers and customers the utility's commitment to operational excellence. Utilities can receive one of three SOAR recognition levels: Bronze (80-89% of possible points), Silver (90-96% of possible points), and Gold (97-100% of possible points). SOAR continues for three years, at which point the utility may apply again to maintain recognition. A utility may also resubmit at any point for consideration to be recognized at a higher level of SOAR  .View all SOAR winners. 

APGA Safety Contest Award


All APGA members are eligible to enter the APGA Safety Contest which determines winners based on the systems' overall incident (lost work time) rate. Learn more about the Safety Contest and view past winners.

APGA Safety Management Excellence Award


This award is given to an APGA member system that consistently operates at the highest levels, clearly establishing the system as an achiever of excellence in the field of Safety Management. Learn more about the Safety Excellence Management Award and view past winners.
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