PHMSA proposes fine for Chevron after Utah pipeline leak

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 5 -- The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration proposed a $423,600 fine for Chevron Pipe Line Co. (CPLC) because of a June leak in its crude oil pipeline near the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. The rupture released 800 bbl of crude onto the ground and into nearby Red Butte Creek, PHMSA said. The Chevron Corp. subsidiary has 30 days to respond.

The US Department of Transportation agency said its investigators found CPLC may have failed to follow required procedures to patrol its pipeline right-of-way, control corrosion on its system, and protect its pipeline from stray electrical currents.

Other investigations have determined that a June 11 electrical storm made a nearby power line arc, sending electricity through a metal fence pole near the pipeline and burning a small hole in the pipe. CPL worked with federal, state, and local responders for several months, deploying 5,420 ft of boom, 6 vacuum trucks, and other spill equipment and putting 235 responders in place from Red Butte Creek to the Jordan River by July 14.

PHMSA said its investigation also suggested CPLC may not have had adequate means to detect leaks along the 182-mile pipeline from Rangely, Colo., to Chevron’s 45,000 b/d refinery north of Salt Lake City. “The pipeline involved in the failure leaked crude oil for more than 10 hours before Chevron received notification of the failure from the local fire department,” the federal agency said.

It also issued a proposed compliance order that would require CPL to improve its right-of-way inspections, take measures to protect its system against damage from lightning or other stray electrical currents, and improve its leak detection capabilities. CPLC can take these actions before the order becomes final, PHMSA said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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