U.S. Government Fines Enbridge $1.8 Million for Missing Pipeline Inspection Deadlines

The U.S. government fined Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge Inc. more than $1.8 million for reportedly missing deadlines for pipeline inspections following a record-breaking oil spill in Michigan in 2010.

The fine is the result of the latest legal battle related to a pipeline rupture that caused more than 1 million gallons of crude oil to spill into the Kalamazoo River in July 2010, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Nearly 40 miles of the river, shorelines, and wetlands were polluted, and the pricey cleanup process took about four years.

Enbridge in 2016 had complied with U.S. regulators to conduct additional pipeline inspections to its Lakehead network of about 2,000 miles of pipelines and was to use tools that could detect cracks, corrosion, and other pipeline flaws.

But authorities concluded that Enbridge failed to meet the required timeframe for six inspections conducted last year.

Enbridge denies violating the timeframe set in 2016 but agreed to pay the penalty to resolve the matter.


Husky Energy Faces Charges After Major 2016 Pipeline Leak in Saskatchewan

Husky Energy is facing provincial and federal charges related to a pipeline leak in 2016 that spilled 1,570 barrels of oil into the North Saskatchewan River and forced a number of cities in Saskatchewan to temporarily stop drinking water from the river.

Environment and Climate Change Canada laid nine charges against the company, and the Saskatchewan province laid one charge.

The maximum fine under federal laws ranges from C$15,000 to C$1 million ($11,669 to $778,938), and the maximum fine under Saskatchewan's environmental rules is C$1 million.

The charges follow a 19-month investigation at both the federal and provincial levels.

The Calgary-based energy company said in a statement that it regrets what happened and takes full responsibility for it.


Colonial Pipeline to Pay $3.3 Million in Fines, Damages to Alabama for 2016 Pipeline Spills

Colonial Pipeline Co will pay the state of Alabama $3.3 million in damages and penalties related to an explosion and spill on its 5,500-mile gasoline line in 2016.

The state's attorney general said the settlement is to first address environmental damage to land and water that was caused by the combined 11,800-barrel spill that happened in rural Shelby County in late 2016.

In September of 2016, nearly 7,400 barrels leaked below ground and was discovered by a mining inspector. The leak was caused by pipe fatigue due to improper soil compaction.

In October, a pipeline explosion killed one worker and injured several others after the pipeline exploded during maintenance on the line when it was accidentally struck by excavating equipment. About 4,400 barrels spilled as a result of the explosion.

The Colonial Pipeline transports more than 3 million barrels per day of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from the Gulf Coast to New York.


Pennsylvania Fines Sunoco More Than $12 Million, Allows Mariner East 2 Construction to Resume

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has allowed construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline to resume after fining the pipeline builder approximately $12.7 million.

The state DEP ordered Sunoco in early January to halt construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline across the southern part of the state, noting a series of spills of drilling fluid and other violations against the terms of its permit.

Of the 350-mile long project, 6.5 miles goes through northern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

In the DEP's order in January, it required that Sunoco fully explain the failures that led to the violations and then come up with a plan to fix those failures.

The consent agreement that came Thursday means Sunoco can now resume construction on the project that will run from the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation in western Pennsylvania to an export near Philadelphia.

The DEP said it would be monitoring Sunoco's activities closely to ensure that the company meets the terms of the agreement.

Lancaster Online

Crestwood Equity Partners Pays Fine for 2014 Pipeline Spill in North Dakota

Crestwood Equity Partners has paid a $49,000 fine to the Environmental Protection Agency for a pipeline leak that spilled 1 million gallons of produced water waste in North Dakota in 2014.

The spill occurred in the Fort Berthold Reservation and contaminated Lake Sakakawea.

Cleanup efforts are ongoing, and Crestwood is following an EPA-approved remediation plan.

Crestwood will also provide a Native American Nation in the area with at least $173,000 in spill-response equipment, as required by the EPA.

Crestwood paid the fine on Thursday and has until April 30 to provide spill response equipment to the MHA Nation.

Houston Chronicle

Colorado Proposes Plan to Fine Excavators Up to $75,000 For Failure to Call 811 Before Digging

Colorado lawmakers are proposing a plan to organize a commission that would investigate and fine those responsible for damages to gas pipelines due to digging.

As concerns over gas pipeline safety in the state continue to grow, a group of bipartisan legislators are proposing to impose fines of up to $75,000 for violations of the state's 811 call system, which requires excavators to call 811 before digging to learn potential nearby locations of underground piping and other infrastructure.

Lawmakers that support the plan argue that the safety of the public is at stake, and changes are needed to stop excavators who repeatedly ignore "common-sense safety" by not calling 811.

The proposal would also help Colorado avoid a loss in federal grants for pipeline safety programs from PHMSA. PHMSA in 2016 found Colorado's pipeline excavation damage prevention laws inadequate, saying the state had until 2020 to fix its program before possibly losing 4 percent in its federal grants.

The proposed plan would create a 12-member commission made up of local public officials, pipeline operators and owners, and excavators. The commission would review complaints and impose penalties ranging from $250 to $75,000.

Denver Post

Ohio Asks Energy Transfer to Stop Horizontal Drilling for Rover Pipeline

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has told Energy Transfer Partners to stop horizontal drilling during construction of the Rover natural gas pipeline project after another spill of clay slurry occurred earlier this month.

EPA Director Craig Butler asked Energy Transfer last week to stop drilling after 200 gallons of slurry spilled into a river in Ashland County, Ohio on November 16. He also said the EPA would ask FERC to intervene.

The EPA has already fined the company $2.3 million over previous spills during construction on the $4.2 billion project.

Energy Transfer Partners is building the 713-mile Rover natural gas pipeline designed to move 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Marcellus and Utica Shales to markets in the U.S. and Canada.

STL Today
Energy Transfer

North Dakota, Energy Transfer Partners Agree on Settlement Related to DAPL

The North Dakota Public Service Commission and Energy Transfer Partners agreed on a settlement related to allegations that Energy Transfer violated state rules while constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Rather than fining Energy Transfer $15,000, which was its original proposal, the Public Service Commission will have the pipeline company develop a "how-to" manual and plant more than 100,000 trees along the pipeline's path in the state.

Among other accusations toward the company, Energy Transfer was said to have removed too many trees and mishandled some soil removed while laying pipe in North Dakota.

In its "how-to" manual, Energy Transfer will be required to write about the proper handling of artifacts discoveries, like the American Indian artifacts the company found, but allegedly improperly reported, during construction.

Although Energy Transfer Partners fought against the allegations and denied doing anything intentionally wrong, the agreement omits any fine against the company and results in "more meaningful initiatives than just a flat-out-fine," said state commissioner Julie Fedorchak.

Houston Chronicle

State Regulators Investigate Possible Violation of Tree Removal in Dakota Access Pipeline Construction

The North Dakota Public Service Commission is investigating whether the operator of the Dakota Access Pipeline violated the commission's tree removal orders and removed too many trees while laying pipe in the state.

The commission has already proposed a $15,000 fine to Energy Transfer Partners after the company diverted construction around ancient artifacts last October without first consulting regulators about how to proceed.

Both matters are planned to be discussed during a closed meeting Friday, with possible solutions to both problems ready by next week.

During a third-party inspection in December of the 380-mile pipeline section in North Dakota, Keitu Engineers and Consultants said it found 83 areas around the line's route where trees may have been cleared in violation of the commission's orders.

Although the company insists it did not violate the commission's tree removal orders, spokeswoman for Energy Transfer Partners Vicki Granado said it is possible the company cleared trees before the company and the commission agreed in June 2016 how large an area could be cleared.

The $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline is complete and should be in service by June 1.

Houston Chronicle

Federal Judge Prepared to Enforce Maximum Sentence for PG&E Pipeline Blast

The San Bruno pipeline explosion occurred September 8, 2010 in San Bruno, California during which a natural gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Company exploded and killed eight people as well as destroyed 38 homes. ( CBS Local - San Francisco )

The San Bruno pipeline explosion occurred September 8, 2010 in San Bruno, California during which a natural gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Company exploded and killed eight people as well as destroyed 38 homes. (CBS Local - San Francisco)

A federal judge says he is inclined to require Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) to pay the maximum fine of $3 million as well as put out advertisements that mention its criminal convictions as part of its sentence from a 2010 natural gas explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes in the San Francisco Bay area.

U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson said he would push back his sentence decision that was originally scheduled for Monday so that he could hear comments from attorneys from the government and PG&E.

In August, PG&E was convicted of five counts of pipeline safety violations, including deliberately misclassifying pipelines in order to cut costs on pipeline monitoring. Jurors also convicted the company of misleading investigators after the incident.

Some prosecutors believe the sentence should weigh much heavier than $3 million as that amount would be just a "drop in the bucket" for the large company.

PG&E said it would comply with the planned $3 million sentence but asked if the advertisements could be linked to efforts of improving safety rather than the company's criminal actions.

LA Times

Cascade Natural Gas Agrees to $2.5 Million Settlement After Failing to Provide Documentation on its High-Pressure Lines

Cascade Natural Gas has agreed to pay $2.5 million to resolve a complaint that said the company failed to have proper documentation for nearly 40 percent of its high-pressure pipelines in Washington.

The state's Utilities and Transportation Commission in July filed a complaint against the company when during an investigation it found that Cascade was unable to provide necessary documents for several of its high-pressure pipelines.

The state's Utilities and Transportation Commission filed the settlement agreement on Thursday and said it would suspend $1.5 million of the fine if Cascade Natural Gas completes a compliance program.

The settlement will still be reviewed by a three-member commission which will either accept, reject, or modify it.

Cascade Natural Gas said in a statement that it "recognizes the importance of having accurate records and is committed to achieving compliance through the settlement agreement."



North Dakota Regulators Propose Fine Against Pipeline Developer

North Dakota regulators are proposing to fine Energy Transfer Partners, the developer of the Dakota Access pipeline, of at least $15,000 after claiming the company continued construction last month without receiving regulators’ permission.

The Public Service Commission of North Dakota announced Monday that Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer, did not ask for permission from the regulators to continue construction last month after finding certain ancient artifacts.

The company rerouted around the artifacts so as not to disturb them when they were found, which was approved by the State Historic Preservation Office. However, the regulators claim the company should have received clearance from the regulators as well.

A spokesperson for Energy Transfer says the company does not think it violated any rules but that it is currently working with the Public Service Commission. The company can agree to the fine or request a hearing.

Houston Chronicle