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Two Companies; Three Former Employees Sentenced in Fatal Washington State Gasoline Pipeline Disposal of Cyanide Solution

Release Date: 06/27/2003
Contact Information:

John Millet 202-564-7842 /

(06/27/03) On June 18, the U.S. District Court in Seattle ordered Olympic Pipeline Company (OPL) and Equilon Pipeline Corporation (EPC) to pay $51 million in criminal and civil penalties for a June 10, 1999 gasoline pipeline explosion that killed three people, released approximately 236,000 gallons of gasoline, and caused severe damage to two Bellingham, Wash., creeks. Three former OPL employees were also sentenced, and EPC’s parent company, Shell Oil, will spend $61 million to ensure the safety of its pipelines in the United States. This was the first criminal prosecution of pipeline companies and executives under the Federal Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act (FHLPA). The Court sentenced OPL to pay a $6 million criminal fine, a $5 million civil fine, spend approximately $15 million ensuring the safety of its pipelines in Washington State, and serve five years’ probation. EPC was ordered to pay a $15 million criminal fine, pay a $10 million civil fine, and EPC’s parent company, Shell, will develop a $61 million pipeline integrity program for its pipelines in the United States. The Court suspended $5 million of EPC’s criminal fine so that the money could be spent on community service projects in Bellingham. OPL previously pled guilty to felony violations of the FHLPA, the Clean Water Act (CWA), and the Rivers and Harbor Act. EPC previously pled no contest to felony violations of the FHLPA and the CWA. This case was investigated by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division and National Enforcement Investigation Center, the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, the FBI, the Washington State Department of Ecology, the Bellingham, Wash., Police Department. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.