Sunday, June 8, 2014

L.A. Spill Case Has Exposed Flaw in Pipeline Safety Oversight

Company responsible for the spill didn't know its dormant pipeline was full of oil before it leaked across a Los Angeles neighborhood.

Aftermath of the March 17 oil pipeline spill in the Wilmington neighborhood of Los Angeles. Areas like Wilmington, which were once peppered with oil rigs, have nearly a century's worth of active and inactive petroleum pipelines underground. Phillips 66, which has owned the broken pipeline for 13 years, never knew that it still contained oil. Credit: Office of Congressman Janice Hahn
On March 17, a Los Angeles-area oil pipeline spilled between 1,500 and 3,000 gallons of crude onto a neighborhood street, surprising residents and creating a noxious mess that took weeks to fully rectify.

The pipeline's owner, Phillips 66, must have been plenty shocked, too. It thought the pipe was empty.

Phillips 66 told state officials that it took ownership of the pipe through a 2001 acquisition, that it never used the line, and that it didn't know it still contained oil, according to Rep. Janice Hahn, whose Congressional district includes the spill site. The company and state oil pipeline regulators declined to confirm those statements or discuss other aspects of the case, citing an ongoing investigation into the spill.  MORE


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