Washington state pipeline safety regulators on Tuesday filed a complaint against Cascade Natural Gas Corporation recommending penalties for violating state and federal pipeline safety regulations.
The complaint was filed as a result of a staff investigation that revealed the company’s failure to provide required documentation for nearly 40 percent of its high-pressure pipelines in Washington.
The staff requests that the commission impose the maximum penalty of $4 million. The filed complaint will be scheduled for a hearing before the three-member commission, which is not bound by the staff’s recommendation.
The staff wrote in an investigation report that “Cascade has demonstrated lax attitude towards compliance that exposes the public to an unacceptable level of risk.”
During three inspections at Cascade in 2013, the company was not able to produce all Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure (MAOP) documents requested by pipeline safety inspectors, a requirement set after the 2010 San Bruno explosion when a contributing factor in the explosion was found to be failure of maintaining records necessary to establish and confirm MAOP.
The commission then required that Cascade develop a comprehensive MAOP compliance plan by August 12, 2015. Cascade failed to meet this deadline and submitted its plan in January of 2016, which was then rejected by the commission determining it did not meet the correct requirements. Cascade sent in a revised compliance plan in April of 2016, and it is still under review.
The Kennewick-based Cascade Natural Gas Corporation serves more than 272,000 customers in 96 communities, 68 of which are in Washington and 28 in Oregon. Its interstate pipelines transmit natural gas from production areas in the Rocky Mountains and western Canada.