The US Justice Department, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the state of Washington have said that a civil settlement has been reached with the Olympic Pipe Line Company and the Shell Pipeline Company for environmental violations leading to a fatal pipeline rupture in Bellingham, Washington in 1999.
The civil settlement addresses claims against the two companies in civil cases arising from the rupture, when 230,000 gallons of gasoline fuel was discharged from the pipeline, caught fire and caused the deaths of two 10-year-old boys and an 18-year-old man.
The settlements require Shell to pay civil penalties of $10 million, split equally between EPA and the Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE). Additionally, the settlement with EPA requires Shell to spend an estimated $62 million to conduct a program lasting a minimum of five years to perform spill prevention work on more than 2,100 miles of Shell’s main product pipelines in seven states. The pipeline systems covered by the program are Shell’s East, North, Chase and Orion systems in the states of Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.
The settlements with Olympic require the pipeline company to pay civil penalties of $5 million, split equally between the EPA and the WDOE. Additionally, Olympic’s settlement with EPA requires the company to spend an estimated $15 million to conduct a spill prevention program lasting a minimum of five years on the entire 400-mile Olympic Pipeline where the tragedy occurred. The required work covers the states of Washington and Oregon and is designed to address all of the causes of the rupture. Olympic’s pipeline spill prevention program supplements the pipeline safety remedial program already required by the Department of Transportation (DOT) shortly after the accident occurred.
The civil penalties in the case are in addition to the criminal fine of $15 million levied against Shell and the criminal fine of $6 million levied against Olympic in a separate criminal case announced last month by the United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington.