On November 2, 2012, Rockies Express Pipeline, LLC (“Rockies”), a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P, agreed to pay $945,900 for alleged violations of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (“PHMSA”) regulations. Rockies had been accused of violating 28 PHMSA regulations in the construction and initial operation of its Rockies Express (“REX”) natural gas pipeline.
The REX pipeline is a 42-inch natural gas pipeline that extends for 1,700 miles between Colorado and Ohio.
PHMSA conducted numerous inspections of approximately 1,351 miles of the REX pipeline during the construction and initial operations of the REX pipeline from July 2007 through November 2009. Those inspections resulted in PHMSA issuing three separate Notice of Probable Violation (“NPV”) orders to Rockies totaling $1,051,500 in civil penalties.
The first NPV alleged 11 violations for improper welds and inadequately repairing welds, improper construction and installation of the pipeline, and operating the pipeline at too high a pressure. The first NPV also proposed ordering certain measures and repairs to correct four of the alleged violations. The second NPV contained 14 alleged violations for improper welding techniques, installation, inspection, and corrosion control. The final NPV alleged that Rockies had violated certain terms and conditions of PHMSA’s Special Order Permit by failing to install certain areas of the pipeline with the required 36 inches of cover soil.
By consenting to the fine, Rockies did not admit to any of the alleged violations, nor does the agreement result in any finding of violations. Rockies has 45 days from the date of the Consent Agreement to submit a plan and schedule for completing the repairs detailed in the first NPV.
A copy of the Consent Agreement is available here. Copies of the three NPV orders are available here, here, and here.