DOT Proposes $423,600 Fine Against Chevron For Pipeline Leak

Nov. 2, 2010
Agency says company failed to take adequate leak-protection measures.

The U.S. Transportation Department said Nov. 1 it has proposed a $423,600 fine against Chevron Corp. for a pipeline failure in Salt Lake City that resulted in the release of 33,600 gallons of crude oil into a nearby creek.

The DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration claims the company may have failed to implement and follow required procedures to prevent the accident, including controlling corrosion on the system and protecting the pipeline from stray electrical currents. The DOT also alleges Chevron may not have an adequate leak-detection system along its pipeline.

Chevron said in an e-mail that it had not yet received the DOT order and will not comment on the agency's findings until it has a chance to review them.

The accident occurred in June near the University of Utah campus and leaked the equivalent of 800 barrels of crude oil into the ground and nearby Red Butte Creek. The pipeline involved in the failure leaked crude oil for more than 10 hours before Chevron received notification of the failure from the local fire department, according to the DOT.

The DOT also issued a proposed compliance order that would require the company to improve its rights-of-way inspections, take measures to protect its system against damage from lightning or stray electrical currents and improve its leak detection capabilities.

Chevron can voluntarily take these actions before the order is finalized, the DOT says. The company has 30 days to respond to allegations.

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