Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gas Line Explosion

High Fines For Explosion

The post below from The Houston Business Journal and denvernews@bizjournals.com shows that some Federal Agencies take incidents that cause fatalities and/or catastrophies are fined with enough impact to let huge corporations do what they wish with disregard to safety procedures spelled out by these Programs.

Most of my posts are referred to OSHA incidents, but other Agencies have rules and seem to be not ashamed to place heavy fines for such incidents.

In reference to OSHA, I have noted in past posts that I feel that their fines are inadequate to cover make a difference to Large Corporations that just pay a small fine and continue to operate unsafely.

It seems that The Department of Transportation has no qualms about issuing penalties that get the attention FINANCIALLY of these large corporations.

The fatality in this incident was only one person. However, this could have easily caused multiple fatalities and huge monetary costs. This person, apparently, had not been advised of the location of the pipe line and while grading for a right of way struck the existing line with his dozer.

El Paso Corp. hit with $2.3M safety penalty

Houston Business Journal

The U.S. Department of Transportation has levied what it calls a record penalty of $2.3 million against gas-pipeline company El Paso Corp. and its subsidiary, Colorado Interstate Gas Co., in connection with a fatal 2006 pipeline explosion in Wyoming.

The civil penalty, for alleged violations of federal pipeline safety regulations, is the largest DOT has ever levied against a pipeline company under its oversight, the agency said.

The penalty is in connection with an explosion in Laramie County, Wyo., in which the Rockies Express Pipeline, a gas pipeline owned by Wyoming Interstate Co. Ltd. and operated by Colorado Interstate Gas Co., both subsidiaries of Houston-based El Paso Corp. (NYSE: EP), was struck by a bulldozer, resulting in the release of natural gas, a subsequent explosion and fire, and the death of the bulldozer’s driver.

The operator was Bobby Ray Owens Jr., 52, of Louisiana, according to news reports. He worked for a construction company, not El Paso.

“At the time of the accident, the bulldozer operator was attempting to grade nearby land to build a right of way for the Rockies Express Pipeline,” DOT said in a statement.

DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which investigated the incident, “discovered the companies did not comply with federal regulations covering the locating and marking of buried pipeline facilities,” the agency said.

“Federal requirements are in place to provide protections for America’s most important assets, its citizens,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in the statement. “The department will hold pipeline operators accountable for the safety of those who live and work in the vicinity of their systems and negligence will not be tolerated.”

El Paso Corp. and Colorado Springs-based Colorado Interstate Gas also were ordered to take various actions “to ensure compliance with federal pipeline safety regulations.” They include revising corporate procedures for making construction records, maps, and operating history available to operating personnel, and having supervisors to conduct unannounced reviews of work performed by El Paso line locators to ensure applicable procedures are being followed.

In a statement to The Associated Press, an El Paso Corp. spokesman said that the company has improved its procedures, but he also said federal officials should have taken into account what he called errors by the construction company working at the site as well as the complexity of the situation.

denvernews@bizjournals.com




1 comment:

Farhan Jaffry said...

This is a huge fine and OSHA has done rightly so, the explosion took many valuable lives. OSHAcampus.com