WCTV on AGL pipeline Homerville coffee shop explosion and proposed GA-PSC fines 2019-04-04

How about some accountability for regulations already in place, starting with legally-required corporate policies and procedures?

Emma Wheeler, WCTV Eyewitness News, State: Gas company failures led up to Homerville explosion,

[Empty lot]
WCTV’s Emma Wheeler reporting from the empty lot where Coffee Corner used to be in Homverville, GA

The Public Service Commission is proposing a civil penalty of $2.3 million against Atlanta Gas Light for the violations.

[GA-PSC says AGL did not shut off the gas]
GA-PSC says AGL did not shut off the gas

Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman lives near the start of the pipeline. He said he was horrified by the report, and fears that this could happen anywhere along its path.


“They’re dangerous. It’s high pressure explosive gas,”

“as every sign they post says.”

“Oh yeah, pipeline leaks. I call them in, they come and fix them and then it leaks again,” Quarterman said. “They’re dangerous, it’s high pressure explosive gas, as every sign they post says.”

Quarterman hopes this report, and the multi-million dollar fine, will lead to more accountability and regulation for natural gas companies.

It’s not as if we need a lot of new regulations: just enforcing those we already have would make a big difference. GA-PSC says AGL did not follow its own corporoate policies and procedures, not even for investigating after the explosion, and some of the information AGL reported to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) had “no basis in fact.”

That is why AGL is now facing a $2.3 million fine.

That $2.3 million dollar proposed fine is huge compared to the previous GA-PSC fine against AGL, a “voluntary contribution” of $10,000. That one was for

“49 C.F.R. § 192.605(a): Respondent’s personnel failed to follow their procedure for performing maintenance on valves, which resulted in a mass outage of customers.

The current proposed fine against AGL is even large compared to the average fine levied by PHMSA against the operator of Sabal Trail, Spectra Energy (now Enbridge), which ran from $5,000 to $239,200 in the years 2004 to 2017, including a PHMSA Final Order of 5 December 2013 for $87,100 in fines for “failing to follow its own manual of written procedures”.

It’s almost like there’s a pattern of pipeline operators failing to follow their own corporate procedures, much less state or federal law. Let’s start by fixing that.

See also LNG Export.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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