PUC Approves Settlement with Energy Transfer over Pipeline Explosion
The state Public Utility Commission recently approved an almost $2 million settlement with Energy Transfer Corp. (ETC) over the 2018 explosion of the Revolution Pipeline in Beaver County.
The action brings an end to an investigation into the incident. In early 2020, the state Department of Environmental Resources assessed a $30.6 million civil penalty on ETC and ordered it to submit revised designs for parts of the pipeline built across steep slopes, as well as an updated emergency preparedness plan.
The 24-inch natural gas pipeline that takes gas from Marcellus wells in Beaver and Butler counties to a gas processing plant in Washington County had just been put into service when on Sept. 10, 2018, a portion built on a steep slope slipped and ruptured. More than three million cubic feet of natural gas was released, causing a fire that burned for several hours – destroying a nearby home and garage, damaging several electric transmission lines and towers in the area, and burning several acres of the surrounding woodland. No one was injured in the explosion but several pets were killed.
The settlement includes a $1 million civil penalty ETC must pay to DEP, a PUC press release states. In addition, approximately $975,000 of additional safety-related measures must be taken, including:
· Added pipeline start-up procedures, including 24-hour monitoring during start-up, along with employees onsite at each valve station who are qualified to operate those valves – continuing until the pipeline reaches operating pressure.
· Incorporation of preconstruction research into pipeline design, to ensure that the information about the evaluation of geohazards is conveyed to the design team and construction inspectors working in the field.
· In-line inspections of the pipeline, prior to the start-up.
· Multiple annual in-line inspections on the pipeline, to verify its’ integrity.
· Immediate notice to the PUC of any slope failure affecting pipeline integrity, and enhanced procedures to monitor and patrol the pipeline right of way.
· Implementation of a quality assurance/quality control program to oversee pipeline siting and construction practices for ETC’s gas and hazardous liquids pipelines in Pennsylvania.
The PUC is responsible for oversight of transmission pipelines in Pennsylvania, inspections, and safety violation enforcement under the state’s Gas and Hazardous Liquids Enforcement Act. The settlement was proposed in December 2020 and approved after a review of comments from stakeholders.