Like many other regulators, on March 20, 2020 the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) released guidance on enforcement activity during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The guidance states that “PHMSA does not intend to take any enforcement action with regard to [operator qualification] and [control room management] requirements, and will consider exercising its enforcement discretion with regard to Part 199 drug testing requirements.” PHMSA is “taking into consideration the exigent circumstances” that may cause regulated operators difficulty in compliance with:
- 49 C.F.R. §§ 192.801-.809, 193.2707-.2709, 193.2713-.2717, and 195.501-.509 (operator requirements); and
- 49 C.F.R. §§ 192.631(d)(4) and 195.446(d)(4) and (h) (control room requirements).
PHMSA’s guidance provides that operators unable to maintain compliance with the regulations should communicate with their regulator and maintain documentation explaining:
- what specific requirements are not being met;
- how the noncompliance is related to COVID-19; and
- what alternative measures are being taken to ensure safety.