PHSMA Issues Civil Penalties of Combined $382,800 to Kinder Morgan, Sunoco Logistics

PHSMA announced Wednesday it issued a Notice of Probable Violation, Proposed Compliance Order and Proposed Civil Penalty to both Kinder Morgan and Sunoco Logistics Partners after separate inspections led to findings of probable violations of Federal pipeline safety regulations.

PHSMA issued a notice, order, and penalty of $131,000 to Kinder Morgan Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America after the administration inspected the company’s 4,312-mile KM Gas NGPL East System that runs from Texas to Illinois and found five probable violations of Federal pipeline safety regulations. Some violations include “failing to adhere to a procedural manual for operations and maintenance activities by omitting valve and component conditions from 553 valves records, and a failure to document that valves were partially operated during NGPL’s inspections of emergency valves,” according to PHMSA’s statement.

PHMSA also issued a notice, order, and penalty of $251, 800 to Sunoco Logistics Partners after the administration inspected the November 2015 accident at Sunoco’s Wortham, Texas facility that injured several workers. Two probable violations identified during inspection include “failing to have a formal written procedure for the operation and maintenance of the 10-inch flow control valve involved in the accident, and failing to follow a written plan to ensure isolations of all energy sources prior to the start of work on the day the incident occurred,” according to the PHMSA statement.


Federal Officials Investigating if Welder Caused Refinery Fire

Federal officials are investigating whether a welding contractor working on a crude oil pipeline may have prompted a fire that occurred Friday at the Sunoco refinery in southeast Texas and injured seven workers.

According to the Beaumont Enterprise, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration was investigating the fire on Saturday to try to solve the cause of the fire that sent three workers to burn specialist hospitals by helicopter and the rest to local hospitals by ambulance.

Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields said a part of the investigation will be to determine whether contractors were following safety practices while constructing on the line.

Shields reported that the fire, which began around 9:00pm, neither stopped operations nor significantly impacted business.

Beaumont Enterprise

PHMSA Proposes $183,800 in Civil Penalties to Kinder Morgan for Pipeline Safety Violations

PHMSA on Friday proposed $183,800 in civil penalties and issued a Notice of Probable Violation and a Proposed Compliance Order to Kinder Morgan-Wink Pipeline for possible Federal pipeline safety violations that were found during an integrated inspection of the Wink pipeline system in Texas.

The alleged violations found during the inspection include the operator’s failure to meet record-keeping requirements and to ensure the integrity of above-ground breakout tanks, the failure to inspect and maintain cathodic protection systems used to control corrosion, and the failure to correctly determine maximum operating pressure for multiple pipeline systems, according to the PHMSA notice. 

An integrated inspection is prioritized based on system-specific risk information to focus on programs, geographic areas, and threats that pose higher risks.

The Wink pipeline is a 450-mile pipeline that transports crude oil from Scurry County, Texas to El Paso, Texas.


PHMSA Proposes $1.6 Million in Civil Penalties for Safety Violations to Williams Partners

PHMSA on Friday proposed $1.6 million in civil penalties and issued a Notice of Probable Violation (NOPV) and a Proposed Compliance Order to Transcontinental Pipeline Company (Transco), a subsidiary of Williams Partners, for violating Federal pipeline safety regulations.

PHMSA’s actions are a result of the October 8, 2015 incident during which four Transco employees died due to a series of explosions and a fire at the Louisiana Compressor Station near Bayou Black.

After investigating the cause of the October incident, PHMSA found five alleged instances of noncompliance with Federal pipeline safety standards. These instances include the failure to report all significant facts when reporting the incident to the National Response Center and performing welding on pipeline components that contain a combustible mixture of gas and air.

PHMSA incorporated remedial actions into the Proposed Compliance Order that correspond to each alleged violation in order to ensure compliance with regulations and to improve safety. See the NOPV and Proposed Compliance Order here.

The Transco Compressor Station 62 facility is located between Gibson and Houma, Louisiana where it receives unprocessed natural gas via pipelines from offshore producers in the Gulf of Mexico.


PG&E Fined $24.3 Million for Inaccurate Records on Natural Gas Pipelines

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) seeks $24.3 million from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for failure to maintain accurate records of its natural gas distribution system.

CPUC reported Wednesday that it previously fined PG&E $10.8 million for a natural gas explosion in 2014 that demolished a cottage in Carmel. This incident elicited an investigation into PG&E to study its record-keeping of its gas distribution system.

The investigation found that PG&E relied on false records of underground gas lines, which led to damaged pipelines during excavation, interrupted gas service, and ultimately the explosion in Carmel.

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Fox 40 via The Associated Press

SoCal Gas Company Fined $2.25 Million for Pipeline Safety Violations

Aerial view of the Aliso Canyon gas leak, two months after the incident began.
EARTHWORKS (Aliso Canyon methane leak Credit: Earthworks) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Southern California Gas Company was fined $2.25 million due to delayed fixes on corrosion control systems that were found during a gas operation inspection in the Harbor Area and Mid-City.

The inspection took place in April and May 2015 by the Safety Enforcement Division for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), during which the CPUC found 45 safety violations. According to the citation, between 2011 and 2015 SoCal Gas Company failed to repair 125 deficient corrosion prevention systems within the required 15 months. CPUC fined the gas company for 45 of those 125 deficiencies that exceeded two years, reporting that they posed unacceptable risk to safe operations.

Months after the April and May 2015 inspections, a gas well blew out at the company’s Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility in the north end of the San Fernando Valley near Porter Ranch. The well rupture led to the uncontrolled release of more than 5 billion cubic feet of natural gas and the relocation of more than 2,000 families outside of the area.

CPUC’s citation notes that the violation was not willful, and Southern California Gas Company has taken highest responsibility to address the problem by implementing system-wide corrective actions.

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