Annual Evaluation of Vermont’s Pipeline Safety Program Issued by U.S. Department of Transportation

27 October 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 27, 2017
Contact:  June E. Tierney, Commissioner
(802) 828-4071
Audrey.fargo@vermont.gov

MEDIA RELEASE

Vermont Public Service Department releases Annual Evaluation of Vermont’s Pipeline Safety Program Issued by U.S. Department of Transportation

Today Public Service Department Commissioner June E. Tierney releases the annual evaluation report of Vermont’s Pipeline Safety Program issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.  The report recommends improving the Department’s organization of its inspections and necessary program documentation. The Vermont Department of Public Service pledges to improve its administration of the Pipeline Safety Program as part of ongoing efforts to strengthen and modernize administrative functions in its operations.   The Department is actively working to address the noted administrative deficiencies and to improve its program practices by the end of 2017. “The Department is taking this inspection report very seriously and is fully committed to a prompt course of corrective action,” said Tierney, who further emphasized that the inspection findings do not point to safety concerns for any of the pipeline infrastructure. 

The Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016 provides for the monitoring of State pipeline safety programs by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). This annual monitoring is to ensure compliance with the Act’s requirements for State pipeline safety programs.  During July 2017, a representative of PHMSA’s Office of State Programs evaluated the CY2016 Gas Pipeline Safety program activities in Vermont.  While the Department received a perfect score on its annual progress report, the Agency received 88 out of a possible 107 points on the portion of the inspection that deals with program evaluation review.  The Department lost points principally for incomplete and un-remedied documentation issues identified in previous inspections. 

In its letter to the Department, PHMSA explains that the Department must improve the Pipeline Safety Program to address long-standing administrative issues that PHMSA has previously brought to the Department’s attention in years past and that do not appear to have been satisfactorily resolved to date.  Commissioner Tierney emphasizes the Department’s commitment to improving this important safety monitoring program stating, “I very much appreciate PHMSA’s thorough evaluation of the Department’s practices in administering its Pipeline Safety Program.” 

The Department is now in the process of reviewing the evaluation to determine next steps and prepare a response that is due to be provided to PHMSA by late December 2017.

The documents referenced in this release are available on the Department’s website:

US DOT Evaluation Letter

2016 US DOT Gas State Program Evaluation

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Vermont Public Service Department
112 State Street
Montpelier, VT  05620-2601

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