Spectra Energy Cited By Feds for Probable Pipeline Safety Violations

Jul 27th, 2011 | By Mark | Category: Lead Articles, Regulation

NatGas Consulting

Spectra Energy, the company seeking permission to construct a massive, new natural gas pipeline that would run between New York City and New Jersey, has been cited by federal regulators for 17 inadequacies in its pipeline safety operations and procedures.

According to a June 13 Notice of Amendment from the PHMSA to Spectra, the federal agency inspected the gas company’s Operating and Maintenance Procedures on Nov. 29, 2010 at Spectra headquarters in Houston, TX. In connection with that inspection, Spectra provided the PHMSA representatives a copy of the company’s Operations and Maintenance Plan.

The inspectors found that Spectra’s plans and procedures were inadequate in a number of areas, including:

  • continuing pipeline surveillance,
  • emergency plans, and
  • welding procedures.

For example, with respect to continuing pipeline surveillance, federal regulations require every pipeline operator to define a procedure for monitoring its pipelines and to take appropriate action in response to changing conditions, such as corrosion, failure, leakage or other developments.

During the inspection, federal regulators discovered the Spectra’s plans and procedures addressed only aerial surveillance and “did not adequately address the surveillance of all risk elements … .”

Spectra’s operations and procedures manual was also found deficient by federal inspectors for, among other probable violations:

  • failing to “adequately describe the notification and communications process with fire, police and other public officials during an emergency.”
  • failing to “define which conditions deemed a pipeline unsafe and failing to define “a time period for mitigation of a a pipeline segment that the operator deemed unsafe.”
  • failing to “provide additional guidance during the annual inspection of relief valves, particularly the pressure build-up of each relief valve … .”

The June 13 Notice of Amendment represents the third notice of probable violation issued to Spectra by the PHMSA this year.

On April 21, the agency issued Spectra a Notice of Amendment in connection with the gas company’s Preventative and Mitigation Measures and Quality Control, and a Letter of Warning in connection with the firm’s Internal Corrosion Direct Assessment plan.

The issues that led to the Letter of Warning have been resolved, according to the PHMSA. However, the other two cases are still open and pending.

This graphic shows the blast zone that would be created if an explosion similar to the one that occurred in San Bruno, CA, last year were to happen in Manhattan at the location of the natural gas pipeline proposed for the city by Spectra Energy.

In response to the April 21 Notice of Amendment, Spectra Vice President of Transmission Services Andy Drake acknowledged the probable violations in a May 25, 2011 letter to PHMSA and stated that, “Spectra is not contesting the issues noted in the NoA.”

Drake also requested additional time for Spectra to fully address the probable violations.

Spectra Energy has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to run a 30-inch natural gas pipeline, similar in size to the one that exploded in San Bruno, from New Jersey under the Hudson and into Manhattan, where the pipeline will reportedly terminate near the Henry Hudson Greenway and West 14th St.

FERC is expected to issue a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in the matter sometime in the near future.

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12 Comments to “Spectra Energy Cited By Feds for Probable Pipeline Safety Violations”

  1. [...] cited by federal regulators for 17 inadequacies in its pipeline safety operations and procedures. Spectra Energy Cited By Feds for Probable Pipeline Safety Violations – Natural Gas Watch.org Advertisement LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "0"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); [...]

  2. [...] Natural Gas Watch reports that Spectra Energy has been cited by federal regulators for 17 inadequacies in its pipeline safety operations and procedures, such as surveillance, emergency plans and welding procedures. Spectra Energy Cited By Feds for probable violations. [...]

  3. [...] size chuck of Greenwich Village could well be damaged (see the graphic below). Natural Gas Watch highlights a number of violations for which Spectra was cited by the Federal government earlier this [...]

  4. [...] Natural Gas Watch reports that Spectra Energy has been cited by federal regulators for 17 inadequacies in its pipeline safety operations and procedures, such as surveillance, emergency plans and welding procedures. Spectra Energy Cited By Feds for probable violations.  [...]

  5. [...] an inspection of Spectra facilities, a set of pipeline safety violations that were first reported here on NaturalGasWatch.org several months [...]

  6. Lois McCarthy says:

    I am shocked to learn of this Spectra pipeline. I fell everyone is losing their minds to try to bring this to the West Village. Have any of these Spectra promotors ever been to the West Village? STOP THIS INSANITY AND GREED!!!!!!!!!! Perhaps the toxic gases have already destroyed the part of their brain that allows for rational thinking. Sempra should stay in California and put this under there own homes.

  7. Don Lieber says:

    This is a great article – how absurd and Orwellian that such a project is being thrust into our midst despite the glaring history of accidents, as well as the inherent toxic dangers, climate change implications, etc. Among other dangers — the pipeine is coming into NYC in close proximity to children, as I’ve pointed out in the attached article from another site. I suppose it really is up to us, as a grassroots level, to ensure our health and safety – sadly the corporations and our government don’t give a frack about it…. Thanks Emily and the rest for keeping up on this and countering…

  8. [...] Texas Eastern, the Spectra subsidiary which will lay the pipeline in the New York metro area, was fined $134,000 by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for failing [...]

  9. [...] Texas Eastern, the Spectra subsidiary which will lay the pipeline in the New York metro area, was fined $134,000 by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for failing [...]

  10. [...] Rufalo, are concerned about the high-pressure gas line’s safety issues. With mounting federal fines and violations already under Spectra’s belt, many are worried the 30 to 40 inch wide pipeline carrying 800 [...]

  11. [...] Texas Eastern, the Spectra subsidiary which will lay the pipeline in the New York metro area, was fined $134,000 by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for failing [...]

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