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U.S. pipeline regulator completes rule to boost safety standards

File photo of pipe for the Sandpiper Pipeline stored east of Stanley, N.D., along U.S. Highway 2 for construction of the pipeline. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service1 / 3
Pipes for Transcanada Corp's planned Keystone XL oil pipeline are pictured in Gascoyne, North Dakota in this November 14, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen/Files2 / 3
File photo of a depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp's planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota November 14, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen 3 / 3

NEW YORK—The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said on Friday, Jan. 13, it has passed a rule to boost safety requirements on the country's oil and refined products pipelines.

The rule requires pipeline operators to have a system for detecting leaks and to establish a timeline for inspecting affected pipelines following an extreme weather event or natural disaster, PHMSA said in a statement.

PHMSA said it aims to improve the quality and frequency of tests used to assess threats and the condition of pipelines.

Technology touted by pipeline operators routinely fails and while there are guidelines, there are no strict federal mandates in place for a particular system to catch spills, experts have said.

Pipeline safety has become a key topic of debate in recent months after massive protests against Energy Transfer Partners' crude oil Dakota Access Pipeline due to concerns about contaminated water supply in the event of a leak.

The incoming Donald Trump administration has said it supports Dakota Access, along with other pipeline projects.

A spokeswoman for PHMSA said the regulator expects the rule to be published in the Federal Register by the end of next week, adding that from then it takes 6 months for the rule to go into effect.

Rules announced by PHMSA on Friday also expands the list of conditions that require immediate repair.