SECTION 1. Chapter 164 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting the following section:-
Section 115B. The department shall promulgate regulations establishing: (1) inspection and reporting requirements for the inspection of pipeline, including the gas local distribution company’s service line connected to an inside meter from the pipeline; (2) notice to occupants of the inspection process and any findings resulting therefrom; and (3) repair and replacement requirements when a hazard is discovered.
Any gas local distribution company service connected to inside piping over 30 years old shall be scheduled for replacement concurrent with any scheduled or unscheduled visit to the structure housing the inside meter.
The department shall approve the implementation of these requirements, as memorialized in each gas local distribution company’s operations and maintenance manual and receive annual reports concerning the implementation of this section from each gas local distribution company.
SECTION 2. Section 144 of said chapter 164, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out subsection (a) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-
(a) There shall be uniform natural gas leaks classification for all gas companies.
For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
“Eliminated”, a zero gas reading in all areas within 300 feet of the leak, including all inhabited structures, for 24 consecutive hours after an initial zero gas reading following the repair of the leak; provided, that every time a new gas reading occurs within the 300 foot radius, the reading will trigger a new work order, repair and a new 24-hour period to ensure the leak is eliminated; provided further, that leaks repaired on a temporary basis to eliminate an immediate hazard or probable hazard shall not be considered eliminated.
“Grade 1 Leak”, a leak that represents an existing or probable hazard to persons or property, including, but not limited to, leaks resulting in: (1) any positive reading inside an inhabited structure that is determined to be related to a pipeline; (2) any positive reading from an external source, above or below ground, within 5 feet of an inhabited structure; or (3) any reading indicating 4 per cent or more gas in an enclosed space.
“Grade 2 Leak”, a leak that is recognized as non-hazardous to persons or property at the time of detection, but justifies scheduled repair based on probable future hazard.
“Grade 3 Leak”, a leak that is recognized as non-hazardous to persons or property at the time of detection and can be reasonably expected to remain non-hazardous.
SECTION 3. Subsection (b) of said section 144 of said chapter 164, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out paragraph (2) and inserting in place thereof the following paragraph:-
(2) Grade 1 leaks, as defined in subsection (a), require repair immediately and continuous action until the conditions are no longer hazardous. Upon identifying a Grade 1 leak, the gas company shall immediately schedule repairs, which shall continue until completed, and the location of the existing or probable hazard shall be kept under surveillance until the hazard or source of the leak is eliminated permanently. Whenever appropriate and feasible, a gas company shall notify the fire department and chief law enforcement officer in each city or town where a Grade 1 leak is identified.
SECTION 4. Said subsection (b) of said section 144 of said chapter 164, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out paragraph (3) and inserting in place thereof the following paragraph:-
(3) The gas company shall repair Grade 2 leaks, as defined in subsection (a), or replace the main within 6 months from the date the leak was classified. All Grade 2 leaks shall be reevaluated by a gas company at least once every 3 months until eliminated permanently; provided, however, that the frequency of reevaluation shall be determined by the location and magnitude of the leakage condition.
SECTION 5. Said subsection (b) of said section 144 of said chapter 164, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out paragraph (4) and inserting in place thereof the following paragraph:-
(4) The gas company shall reevaluate Grade 3 leaks, as defined in subsection (a), during the next scheduled survey, or within 6 months from the date last evaluated, whichever occurs first, until the leak is eliminated or the main is replaced. A municipal or state public safety official may request a reevaluation of a Grade 3 leak prior to the next scheduled survey, or sooner than 6 months from the date last evaluated, if the official reasonably believes that the Grade 3 leak poses a threat to public safety.
Each local distribution company shall maintain an accurate and timely record of any Grade 3 leaks that, upon re-inspection, are upgraded to a Grade 1 or 2 leak. The department shall establish a service quality metric for the same, and each gas local distribution company will report any upgrades of Grade 3 leaks to the department on a monthly basis.
Each gas local distribution company shall maintain a central control room within its service territory with trained staff sufficient to monitor its pipeline and respond to fluctuations in pressurization, reportable incidents, and infrastructure failures.
Each gas local distribution company shall report each disruption in its ability to provide electronic data, including but not limited to, maps and records relevant to inspections, maintenance, repairs, and construction to its in-house workforce and contractors lasting more than 30 minutes. Each 30 minute disruption shall be the subject of a separate report. Disruptions in the provision of electronic data to field personnel and field contractors will be incorporated as a metric in the DPU’s service quality indicators for gas local distribution companies.
The department shall promulgate regulations establishing requirements for the maintenance, timely updating, accuracy, and security of gas local distribution company maps and records. Such regulations shall be promulgated and implemented no later than January 1, 2021.
SECTION 6. Said section 144 of said chapter 164, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out subsection (c) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-
(c)(1) Upon the undertaking of a significant project on a public way exposing confirmed natural gas infrastructure, and with sufficient notice, a municipality or the commonwealth shall submit written notification of the project to a gas company. The gas company shall survey the project area for the presence of Grade 1 or Grade 2 leaks and set repair and replacement schedules for all known or newly detected Grade 1 or Grade 2 leaks. The gas company shall ensure that any shut off valve in the significant project area has a gate box installed upon it or a reasonable alternative that would otherwise ensure continued public safety and that any critical valve that has not been inspected and tested within the past 12 months is verified to be operational and accessible. The gas company shall provide the repair and replacement schedule of gas leaks to the municipality or the commonwealth.
(2) Upon the undertaking of any planned project involving excavation for purposes of performing maintenance on or construction involving any gas mains or services by gas company employees, or any blasting work, the gas company shall ensure that its employees first locate and identify and mark all gas gates and valves, and verify that all are cleared, operational and accessible in clear sight at ground level in advance of any excavation, and that said gas gates and valves are left cleared, and operational following any such project.
(3) The gas company shall ensure that any shut off valve in the significant project area has a gate box installed upon it by its employees to ensure continued public safety.
(4) The gas company shall provide the municipality or the commonwealth with written confirmation that the gas gates and valves have been cleared, inspected and tested by its employees and found to be capable of accepting a gate key, and shall provide the municipality or commonwealth with undated, correct information if the location of gates or valves is determined to have been previously improperly located.
(5) Failure to undertake verification that gas gates and valves have been cleared, and are both operational and accessible prior to the start of and following an excavation, or blasting work, shall be subject to a fine of up to $10,000. Failure to submit written confirmation of such verification shall be subject to a fine of $200 per day.
SECTION 7. Said chapter 164 is hereby amended by inserting after section 21 the following section:-
Section 21A. The department, under chapter 30A and in consultation with gas and electric utilities, shall promulgate rules and regulations for the training and implementation of a certification program for contractors and their employees repairing or performing work on gas infrastructure in the commonwealth.
Contractors who wish to be eligible to receive contracts with a gas company to perform gas work shall be required to register and provide all required documentation to meet certification requirements with the department on an annual basis.
When a gas company seeks to outsource work customarily performed by gas company employees and valued at an amount in excess of $20,000 to a registered contractor, the gas company shall report to the department the reason the work is being outsourced, the cost of the contract being outsourced, the contractor with whom the gas company is contracting and the qualifications of said contractor. An agent of the gas company shall provide a signed certification attesting to the same.
For contractors hired to provide field services, the gas company shall submit a plan to the department designating the number of in-house staff and their job classifications assigned to oversee contractor work each month and shall provide a monthly report documenting the number of visits by in-house staff and the locations visited to oversee contractor work. An agent of the gas company shall certify compliance with this plan as part of the gas company’s monthly reporting requirements.
If a gas company chooses to outsource work customarily performed by gas company employees due to insufficient gas company staffing, the gas company shall submit a plan for hiring additional staff to address the staffing shortage.
No construction, reconstruction, installation, alteration, repair or mapping of critical infrastructure shall be outsourced to a contractor outside of the United States.
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