Energy Transfer LP would pay a $1 million fine to settle safety violations over a fiery 2018 natural gas pipeline explosion that destroyed a home in Western Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday approved a proposed settlement made last December with the Texas company, whose Revolution Pipeline ruptured and exploded after heavy rains caused a landslide in Beaver County. The new 24-inch diameter pipeline was just being brought into service when the failure occurred.
The explosion and fire destroyed a nearby home, whose occupants fled without injury, and knocked out a major electrical transmission line. The pipeline has been out of service since the Sept. 10, 2018, episode.
Under the settlement, Energy Transfer does not admit it violated the safety regulations alleged by the PUC’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement. But in addition to the $1 million payment, Energy Transfer agreed to several conditions that the PUC says go beyond federal safety requirements.
The company agreed to conduct five annual inline inspections of the Revolution pipeline through 2025, to walk the entire 40-mile pipeline right of way after heavy rains and to improve how preconstruction geologic research is incorporated into pipeline design and construction.
The PUC agreed not to oppose Energy Transfer’s efforts to restart the pipeline.
The commission’s order seeks public comment on the proposed settlement. Any modifications to the settlement would allow either party to withdraw from the agreement and pursue litigation.
The Revolution Pipeline is operated by ETC Northeast Pipeline LLC, which is separate from Energy Transfer’s former Sunoco Pipeline unit that is building the contentious Mariner East pipeline system. The Mariner East system delivers such natural gas liquids as propane from Western Pennsylvania to an export terminal in Marcus Hook, Delaware County.
The $5.1 billion Mariner East project is a key link in the state’s effort to promote Pennsylvania shale-gas development, but its construction has provoked sharp opposition from residents and aroused fears about pipelines transporting highly volatile liquid fuel near residences, schools, and nursing homes.
Pennsylvania has assessed about $16 million in penalties against the Mariner East project for construction mishaps. The project initially had a completion date of 2019; it now is expected to be finished in 2021. The project has been delayed in part because of legal challenges of its construction permits and its public utility status and because of complications that have arisen as Sunoco threaded the pipelines through densely populated Delaware and Chester Counties.
A Chester County jury Wednesday convicted two state constables of misdemeanor charges of failing to disclose money that they had earned working as private security guards for the Mariner East pipeline, though a judge dismissed more serious bribery and official oppression charges against the two.
Read More: Mariner East pipeline owner will pay a $1m fine for a 2018 accident in western Pa.