Department of Transportation Fines Dakota Access Pipeline Operator $ 93,000 for Safety Breach


The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on Friday announced a fine of $ 93,200 against operators of the Dakota Access pipeline, citing safety violations.

In its notice, the administration said Energy Transfer violated stormwater drainage valve regulations in at least six locations. The company also did not properly correct the hazards associated with at least one valve used for nitrogen release, according to the PHMSA advice.

“During a field inspection of the Johnsons Corner Pumping Station, and upon subsequent review of records, including alarms generated in the operator’s local station control system and records of the SCADA system, it was determined that several alarms have occurred since the pipeline was commissioned indicating relief changes in the nitrogen pressure of the valve (which affects the relief pressure set point of the valve) ” , indicates the notice.

The advisory says the Johnsons Corner valve problem has triggered thousands of alarms since the pipeline began operating four years ago.

The PHMSA has identified five other safety issues, including outdated references to its own operations manuals, as well as the failure to update an integrity management program in line with practical operations. The letter does not identify any specific case of an oil leak from the pipeline.

The Hill has contacted Energy Transfer for comment. The company has 30 days to respond to the notice.

The Dakota Access pipeline has for years been the subject of legal challenges and protests from tribal activists, who warn that a spill would devastate the surrounding environment and community.

In 2020, Obama-appointed Judge James Boasberg ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers erred in failing to conduct a full environmental impact assessment before the pipeline was constructed, and ordered the corps to proceed with more rigorous scrutiny. However, earlier this year he rejected a tribal request to shut down the pipeline during the review.

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