May 2023

Chemical Supplier Reverses Suspension of Operations by PHMSA

A chemical supplier was facing a significant interruption to their business after receiving a letter from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) that proposed an immediate suspension of operations to their chlorine pipeline following an inspection by the agency. Faegre Drinker intervened and contacted the PHMSA’s associate administrator on behalf of the client, ultimately delaying the immediate suspension pending the outcome of an upcoming inspection and doubling the period of their permit to operate from two and one half years to five.

The chemical supplier formulates, manufacturers, blends, sells and distributes thousands of industrial and laboratory chemicals to municipalities and businesses across the country. In January of 2023, PHMSA conducted a site visit. PHMSA claimed to have found certain issues with the way the chemical supplier was operating the pipeline, and the company quickly sent a detailed written response to the agency. This written response went unanswered by the agency and the company only heard back from PHMSA when they received the notice of immediate suspension in early May. The chemical supplier then contacted Faegre Drinker. Faegre Drinker leveraged their contacts and communicated with the PHMSA's associate administrator on the company’s behalf, citing the detailed written response to the issues raised during the agency's January site visit.

The associate administrator decided to temporarily delay the immediate suspension pending another upcoming inspection, which was carried out several days later. Before receiving the notice of immediate suspension from PHMSA, the agency had told the company that their permit to operate the pipeline was being extended only by two and one half years instead of the usual five years, and that it would take the agency 120 days to process the renewal application. However, thanks to Faegre Drinker's high-level intervention, the suspension was fully lifted and the renewal application was approved the day after PHMSA's second inspection of the pipeline for five years.

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