Olympic to restart Washington state line

Olympic Pipe Line Co. will begin 'as soon as possible, probably tomorrow' the phased restart of the northern 37-mile section of its 16-in. petroleum products pipeline in Washington State, a company spokesman said Wednesday.

Feb 7th, 2001


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Feb. 7�Olympic Pipe Line Co. will begin �as soon as possible, probably tomorrow� the phased restart of the northern 37-mile section of its 16-in. petroleum products pipeline in Washington state, a company spokesman said Wednesday in a telephone interview with OGJ Online.

The US Transportation Department�s Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) granted approval for that action Wednesday to BP Pipelines North America, the new operator of that pipeline system.

That segment was shut down after the pipeline ruptured June 10, 1999, spilling 229,000 gal of gasoline into a creek in Bellingham, Wash., 90 miles north of Seattle. The spill ignited into a fireball that killed two 10-year-old boys and an 18-year-old man.

In late January, OPS officials approved Olympic�s plan to start pumping diesel fuel�the least volatile product�into the pipeline to test its integrity and the new safety equipment installed after the accident (OGJ Online, Jan. 30, 2000). During those tests, the pipeline was filled with a pressure of 500 psi, about 36-37% of its normal operating pressure of 1,320 psi, officials said.

BP/Olympic now will work with area refineries to fill that segment of pipeline to 70% of its normal operating pressure as it resumes transportation of refined products from Ferndale in Whatcom County to Allen Station in Skagit County.

After another series of safety checks, the system will be increased to 80% of its normal operating pressure �probably within a couple of weeks� and will maintain that pressure cap, officials said.

�BP�s goals are simply stated: No accidents, no harm to people, and no damage to the environment. These are goals that BP applies to all of the 15,000 miles of pipeline we manage across 33 states and goals that we bring home to Olympic with its 400-mile interstate pipeline system in Washington and Oregon,� company officials said in a written statement Wednesday.

A 77-mile southern section of the 16-in. pipeline remains shut down for inspection and repair. That section will probably be returned to service in the second quarter, officials said.

At the time of the accident, Atlantic Richfield Co. was a minority stockholder in the pipeline. BP took over its 33.5% interest when the two companies merged. Last July, BP Pipelines made a successful bid to become operator.

Equilon Enterprises LLC was the operator of the Olympic Pipe Line system at the time of the accident. OPS subsequently assessed fines of $3 million against Equilon for alleged safety violations.

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