Regulators fine ExxonMobil $2.6 million on pipeline failure and specify safety steps | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Regulators fine ExxonMobil $2.6 million on pipeline failure and specify safety steps

Posted By on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 5:29 PM

PENALTY SET: For safety violations in Mayflower oil spill.
  • PENALTY SET: For safety violations in Mayflower oil spill.

A federal regulatory agency has issued a final order in its review of the break of Exxon Mobil's Pegasus pipeline that spewed  heavy crude on a Mayflower subdivision and into nearby wetlands in March 2013. It confirms safety violations in operation of the line. An original estimate of 5,000 barrels spilled was reduced to 3,190 in a separate case.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration assessed a civil penalty of $2.63 million, reduced slightly from a preliminary finding for nine violations of safety regulations that ExxonMobil had appealed, and spelled out actions for the company to take to comply with safety regulations in the future.

ExxonMobil was ordered to improve its system for assessing potential for failures in welding seams and identify pipe more susceptible to failure. It must assess risk factors regularly within established time frames and meet other heightened standards on detecting problems and recording problems.

John Tynan, director of public affairs for Central Arkansas Water, said the order confirms the water utility's belief that ExxonMobil should have known that the line was susceptible to seam failure since at least 1991 and had failed to take appropriate steps to operate safely.

The pipeline runs through the watershed for Lake Maumelle, CAW's main water supply, and it would like to see the line if ever reopened, removed from the watershed. Tynan commented:

We’re glad to see PHMSA take this action to identify these violations and fine Exxon. However, the actions required in the compliance order are largely administrative or procedural and do not appear to achieve any meaningful, on-the-ground changes to the pipeline or its operation.

Given the findings of the order and the rupture in Mayflower, CAW would have expected PHMSA to require Exxon to replace segments of the defective pipe, or, at minimum, to test the pipeline according to specific, PHMSA-defined parameters to ensure the pipeline’s safety and integrity. CAW has submitted proposed testing parameters to ExxonMobil and PHMSA that we believe would provide this assurance. However, these requirements are not spelled out in the proposed compliance order and ExxonMobil is given a great deal of leeway in its follow up actions.

Moving forward, CAW will be monitoring the information submitted by ExxonMobil closely in order to ensure that the safety of the drinking water supply for 400,000 individuals in our region.

I'm seeking a comment from Exxon. Until now, it hasn't announced plans for when or if it might restart the line's operation. It will still contain miles of pipe made with a welding technique prone to crack. It faces damage lawsuits by people harmed by the break. It has also agreed to pay $5 million in penalties in a separate federal complaint.

Pipeline safety officials ordered the line shut down pending its inquiry. The agency's letter says when the penalties are paid and additional safety requirements are met, the enforcement action will be over.

UPDATE: A comment from ExxonMobil:

ExxonMobil Pipeline Company has received and is evaluating its options with respect to PHMSA’s final order for the 2013 Mayflower incident.

There is a separate corrective action proceeding before the regulatory agency and ExxonMobil has yet to approve plan. If approved, it would take a year or more to implement necessary changes in the line, Tynan estimated.

Tags: , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Tax-cut deficits OK. Help for Puerto Rico? Not for French HIll and them

    Vox points out the towering hypocrisy in the vote by 69 Republican members of the U.S. House, including Rep. French Hill of Little Rock, against a disaster aid package for Puerto Rico and other parts of the U.S.
    • Oct 17, 2017
  • Governor to talk about health care, highway funding

    Gov. Asa Hutchinson will entertain media questions at a 9:30 a.m. session today that is said to cover health care and highway funding. Questions need to be asked about impact on people, not just the state budget, from recent insurance premium increeases and Donald Trump's cut of federal subsidies.
    • Oct 17, 2017
  • State tallies 323 applications to grow or sell medical marijuana

    The state Department of Finance and Administration Department released this evening a tally of total applications to either cultivate (95) or dispense (228) marijuana under the new medical marijuana law.
    • Oct 16, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Police identify two women found fatally shot on Chicot Road

    Little Rock police have identified two women found dead of gunshot wounds in an SUV parked next to a vacant trailer in a mobile home park at 11500 Chicot Road.
    • May 16, 2017
  • Another Republican miracle-working governor

    Great piece in Washington Post on the budget crisis in Louisiana. Big tax cuts and corporate welfare will do that to a state, particularly to a state whose previous governor, Republican Bobby Jindal, refused to join the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion. There's a lesson there for Arkansas.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation