Chapter 4.1. Enforcement Of Federal Pipeline Safety Standards For Propane Operators of California Public Utilities Code >> Division 2. >> Chapter 4.1.
As used in this chapter:
(a) "Supplier" means a person or corporation, other than a public
utility, who sells propane and arranges for its delivery to the
(b) "Distribution system" means a system of pipes, operated by a
person or corporation other than a public utility, serving 10 or more
customers, within a citywide area, an apartment house, a
condominium, a cluster of homes, a shopping center, a combination of
any of the above, a mobilehome park with two or more customers, or
any system if a portion of the system is located in a public place,
which is connected to a tank or tanks, for the purpose of
distribution of propane to the end customers.
(c) "Operator" means the owner of the mobilehome park or the
distribution system, or the designated responsible employee, manager,
or legal representative.
(d) "Tank" means a vessel for the storage and distribution of
(e) "Department" means the Department of Housing and Community
(f) "Local enforcement agency" means the city, county, or city and
county that has assumed the responsibility for the enforcement of
Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 18300) of Part 2.1 of Division 13
of the Health and Safety Code.
(g) "Federal law" or "federal pipeline standards" means the
Federal Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968 (49 U.S.C. Sec. 1671
et seq.) and the regulations contained in Parts 190, 191, and 192 of
Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(h) "Propane" means propane gas, also known as liquid petroleum
gas or LPG.
(i) "NFPA 58" means National Fire Protection Association Standard
number 58, which covers rules and standards for propane service. The
Legislature finds and declares that NFPA 58 is overseen by a national
committee that ensures that the standard incorporates the latest in
current and approved technology.
(j) "Commission" means the Public Utilities Commission.
(k) "General Order (or GO) 112" means the commission's general
order that sets out rules governing design, construction, testing,
maintenance, and operation of utility gas gathering, transmission,
and distribution piping systems. GO 112 incorporates, by reference,
all the pertinent federal laws defined in subdivision (g).
(l) "Public place" means any system supplying two or more
customers where any portion is under a public right of way.
(m) "Trust fund" means the propane safety inspection and
enforcement trust fund established pursuant to Section 4462.
(a) On or before July 1, 1995, the commission shall undertake
a propane safety inspection and enforcement program for propane
distribution systems to ensure compliance with the federal pipeline
standards by propane operators within the state. The commission may
adopt rules, which shall be at least as stringent as the federal law,
in order to protect the health and safety of customers served by
propane distribution systems. Nothing in this chapter prohibits the
commission from adopting more stringent standards than those in the
federal pipeline standards.
(b) As part of this propane safety inspection and enforcement
program, the commission inspectors may:
(1) Enter public or private property as is necessary to carry out
(2) Enter and inspect all propane distribution systems, wherever
situated, and inspect all documents (including those records listed
in subdivision (a) of Section 4453), accommodations, equipment, or
paraphernalia used in connection with or related to the distribution
(c) The commission's propane safety inspection and enforcement
program shall not cover propane used by any of the following:
(1) Single customers served by single tanks.
(2) Distribution systems, other than mobilehome parks, that serve
less than 10 customers, unless any portion of the system is located
in a public place.
(3) Recreational vehicles and appliances.
(4) Vehicular fuel.
(5) Agricultural, commercial serving less than 10 customers,
unless a portion of the system is located in a public place,
industrial, and refinery systems.
(6) Cylinder exchange operations.
(a) The commission shall conduct an initial inspection of
each distribution system which shall take place on the premises. The
inspection shall determine if the distribution system falls under the
commission's safety program pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision
(c) of Section 4452. If it is determined that it does not, then the
inspection shall be terminated immediately. Otherwise, the
inspection, and all followup inspections, shall consist of all of the
(1) A review of the adequacy of the operator's operation and
maintenance plan, emergency plan, and system map or maps.
(2) Evaluation of the information contained in the required annual
(3) A review of the records of leak surveys and repairs, corrosion
control, and cathodic protection of the system.
(4) If deemed appropriate from the review of the records, a
physical inspection of the propane distribution system to ensure
compliance with the federal law, the applicable sections of General
Order 112 relating to the distribution system, NFPA 58, and any rules
and orders adopted by the commission pursuant to this chapter.
(b) If the operator demonstrates compliance pursuant to
subdivision (a), the distribution system shall thereafter be
inspected at least once every seven years pursuant to a risk-based
inspection schedule adopted by the commission. The subsequent
inspections shall consist of the elements specified in subdivision
(a). However, the commission may institute an inspection for a
distribution system of any size, at any time, if it determines,
following a review of a subsequent annual report or receipt of a
complaint, that an additional inspection is necessary.
(c) If the operator does not demonstrate compliance pursuant to
subdivision (a), the distribution system may be inspected on an
annual basis until such time as there is compliance, and thereafter,
shall be inspected as specified in subdivision (b).
(d) If upon the initial inspection or any subsequent inspection,
the commission determines the presence of a propane leak or other
safety hazard in the distribution system that poses a significant or
immediate danger to the health and safety of the customers, the
distribution system may be inspected more frequently until the
condition is corrected. Once corrected, the distribution system shall
be inspected as specified in subdivision (b).
(e) The commission may require an operator to provide necessary
assistance to commission inspectors in entering and inspecting the
distribution systems, including, but not limited to:
(1) Allowing commission inspectors entry to the premises.
(2) Having, upon notice, the necessary records specified in
subdivision (a) available for the commission inspector's review
during the physical inspection.
(3) Assisting in surveying or uncovering portions of the
distribution systems for purposes of inspection, verification, and
(f) It shall be a violation for an operator to willfully obstruct
a commission inspector's access, entry, or inspection of a
distribution system or to remove a warning tag placed on the operator'
s tank by a commission inspector pursuant to subdivision (b) of
(g) The commission may enforce subdivision (f) by issuing a
citation in the manner specified in subdivision (b) of Section 4457,
and shall notify the department or local enforcement agency, the
supplier serving the distribution system, the State Fire Marshal,
local fire districts, and the operator of any citation issued
pursuant to this subdivision.
(h) If the commission determined, upon inspection or a receipt of
a complaint or disclosure, that a distribution system pursuant to
paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 4452 is serving more than
nine customers, or if any portion of the system is located in a
public place, then the distribution system shall be subject to the
commission's safety program as set forth in this chapter.
(a) Every operator of a system serving 10 or more units or
where any portion of the system is located in a public place, with
the exception of mobilehome parks operators, shall prepare and submit
to the commission annually a report on the distribution system. The
report shall be submitted by March 31 of each year and shall cover
the previous calendar year.
(b) In the case of mobilehome parks, the report shall be submitted
to the commission at the same time the annual application for a
permit to operate the mobilehome park is submitted to the department
or the local enforcement agency.
(c) The report shall be prepared using a form or forms required by
the commission, and shall contain the information the commission
finds necessary to carry out the intent of this chapter. In
developing the form or forms, the commission shall consult with
interested parties to ensure that the form contains no more than the
necessary and appropriate information to carry out the intent of this
(d) Upon receipt of the report, the commission shall examine the
report for violations of either applicable federal pipeline safety
laws or regulations or any applicable commission rules or orders. The
commission may inspect the operator's distribution system for the
purpose of verifying whether or not a violation of federal or state
pipeline safety laws or regulations, or NFPA 58 rules, has occurred
or is occurring.
(a) Every operator shall maintain all of the following:
(1) A map, drawing, or diagram that indicates the location of the
distribution system's main and service lines, tank (or tanks),
regulators, the identity and location of key valves, and the identity
of the supplier.
(2) A copy of each annual report that has been submitted pursuant
to the federal law or this chapter.
(3) A copy of any record of leak surveys and repairs, corrosion
control, and cathodic protection of the system.
(4) An operation and maintenance plan, and an emergency plan.
(b) The information and records listed in subdivision (a) shall be
provided to any subsequent operator of the distribution system upon
the sale, transfer, or other conveyance of title to the distribution
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, there shall be no
penalty pursuant to Section 4457 imposed upon a subsequent operator
of the distribution system who has not received the information and
records listed in subdivision (a) from the transferring operator or
upon any operator who fails to have the information and records for
any period on or before the effective date of this section.
Except as specified in Section 4456, after each inspection,
the commission shall furnish the operator, or a representative
designated in writing by the operator, with a written copy of the
inspection report within 30 days of the inspection. The report shall
indicate any violations of applicable federal or state pipeline
safety regulations. The operator shall then file, within 30 days, a
written response with the commission that acknowledges receipt of the
report and specifies a compliance plan for correcting the safety
violations, including, if appropriate, a timetable for completing
necessary repairs or improvements to the distribution system.
(a) If the commission determines the presence of a propane
leak or other safety hazard in the distribution system, which poses a
significant or immediate danger to the health and safety of the
distribution system's customers, it shall notify the supplier serving
the distribution system; the operator, who shall provide notice to
the affected customers; and local authorities, as deemed necessary.
(b) The commission shall require the operator to take immediate
steps to correct and repair the propane leak or other hazard. The
operator of a mobilehome park shall obtain permits from the
department or local enforcement agency, as required by Part 2.1
(commencing with Section 18200) of Division 13 of the Health and
Safety Code. Other operators shall obtain permits from local
agencies, such as the county or fire district. The commission may
place a warning tag on the tank, may direct the serving supplier to
terminate service to the tank, and may direct other local suppliers
not to serve the tank, if an operator does not comply with this
requirement. The cost of repair or corrective action shall be borne
by the operator.
(a) Any operator who commits a violation enumerated in
subdivision (f) of Section 4453 or who fails to file the report
required by Section 4454 or fails to comply with a directive of the
commission pursuant to Section 4456 is subject to a civil penalty of
not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each day that the
violation, or failure to file the report or respond to the directive
continues, but not to exceed two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000)
for a single violation or related series of violations. The
commission shall enforce this subdivision.
(b) The commission may enforce subdivision (a) in the following
(1) By issuing a citation to the operator, as defined by Section
18603 of the Health and Safety Code. In the event of a violation that
constitutes a significant or immediate danger to the health and
safety of the customers, the citation shall be issued immediately and
served upon the responsible person or the holder of the permit to
operate the distribution system. The operator shall be responsible
for the correction of any violations for which a citation has been
given pursuant to this subdivision.
(2) Service of the citation shall be effected either personally or
by first-class mail. Each citation shall be in writing and shall
describe with particularity the nature of the violation, including a
reference to the statutory provisions or regulations alleged to have
been violated, as well as any penalty provided by law for failure to
make a timely correction. The citation shall fix the earliest
feasible time, as determined by the commission, for the elimination
of the condition constituting the alleged violation.
(3) A distribution system operator may request an informal
conference with the commission staff to challenge any citation
alleging a violation, or any directive to correct a violation. The
informal conference, any subsequent hearings, or appeals of a
decision of the commission shall be conducted in accordance with the
rules and procedures prescribed by the commission.
(c) The remedies provided by this chapter are cumulative and shall
not be construed to supersede other provisions of law providing
sanctions for violators of this chapter, including, but not limited
to, Sections 2112 and 2113.
(d) Nothing in this chapter affects the tort liability of the
operator of a distribution system.
(a) The commission shall establish a surcharge to be paid by
operators with distribution systems subject to this chapter on
propane purchased for distribution to their customers. The surcharge
shall be designed to partially recover the commission's costs of the
propane safety inspection and enforcement program required by this
chapter, and to partially recover the commission's costs of
collecting and administering the surcharge. The commission shall
collect the surcharge from the operators and deposit it into the
Propane Safety Inspection and Enforcement Program Trust Fund, for
transfer to the commission's Utilities Reimbursement Account in the
General Fund, which shall be used, upon appropriation by the
Legislature, for purposes of Chapter 4.1 (commencing with Section
4451) of Division 2 of the Public Utilities Code. The surcharge shall
be assessed on a per space or lot basis, shall not exceed
twenty-five cents ($0.25) per month, and shall be collected by the
commission on an annual basis.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law or local ordinance,
rule, regulation, or initiative measure, the operator shall be
entitled to recover the surcharge collected pursuant to subdivision
(a) from its customers. However, the charge to any customer, to allow
for the operator's recovery, shall not exceed the actual surcharge.
The commission may adopt rules and orders to carry out this
(a) In each distribution system, the operator shall post on
the premises the current emergency telephone numbers for, at a
minimum, the operator, the supplier, the fire department, and the
responsible person as defined by Section 18603 of the Health and
Safety Code, and shall maintain on the premises a copy of the
emergency procedures that shall be used in the event there is a
propane leak or other safety hazard in the distribution system. The
operator shall inform each of the customers of the location of these
emergency telephone numbers and the emergency procedure.
(b) Any operator who fails to comply with subdivision (a) shall be
subject to the same penalty set forth in subdivision (a) of Section
4457. The commission shall enforce this subdivision pursuant to
subdivision (b) of Section 4457.
Prior to January 1, 1996, the Occupational Safety and Health
Standards Board shall adopt by reference the 1992 edition of NFPA 58
Standard for the Storage and Handling of Liquified Petroleum Gasses,
or as that 1992 edition may be subsequently amended or supplemented.
It is the intent of the Legislature that the NFPA 58 Standard
supersede any inconsistent state standards, including, but not
limited to, Sections 470 to 494, inclusive, of Chapter 4 of Title 8
of the California Administrative Code. Nothing in this section
prohibits the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board from
adopting more stringent standards than those in NFPA 58.
(a) This chapter hereby creates a trust fund known as the
propane safety inspection and enforcement program trust fund. The
trust fund shall be administered by the commission.
(b) The trust fund shall be used to partially support the funding
requirements of the propane safety inspection and enforcement program
of the commission pursuant to this chapter.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, this chapter, as
added by Chapter 388 of the Statutes of 1994, shall not be
implemented unless sufficient federal funding has been annually
appropriated to the Public Utilities Commission to ensure that only
those charges specifically fixed by law, and no additional charges
shall, directly or indirectly, be passed on to California consumers.
(a) The commission in administering the trust fund, shall be
responsible for the identification of the pertinent operators and for
the collection of the surcharges from the operators.
(b) The commission may use a balancing account, in conjunction
with the trust fund, to account for any overcollection or
undercollection on a yearly basis.
(c) The commission's administrative responsibility and surcharge
collection shall exempt all propane used by the following:
(1) Agricultural, commercial serving less than 10 customers unless
a portion of the system is located in a public place, industrial,
and refinery systems.
(2) Recreational vehicles and appliances.
(3) Vehicular fuel.
(4) Single customers served by single tanks.
(5) Distribution systems, other than mobilehome parks, which serve
less than 10 customers, unless a portion of the system is located in
a public place.
(6) Cylinder exchange operations.
(a) If any operator subject to this chapter is in default of
the payment of the surcharge required by this chapter for a period of
30 days or more, the commission may estimate from all available
information the appropriate fee and may add to the amount of the
estimated fee a penalty not to exceed 25 percent of the amount on
account of the failure, refusal, or neglect to pay the fee, and the
operator shall be estopped to complain of the amount of the
(b) The commission may bring an action, in its own name or in the
name of the people of the state, in any court of competent
jurisdiction, for the collection of delinquent fees estimated under
subdivision (a) of this section, together with a penalty of 25
percent for the delinquency.