The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced it has completed its investigation of last year’s Plains All-American pipeline release in Santa Barbara, California.
PHMSA’s investigation report identified the direct cause of the failure as external corrosion and found that numerous factors contributed to the severity of the release, including the company’s failure to protect the underground pipeline from corrosion.
“Millions of dollars have been spent to repair the substantial damage caused to the environment from this spill. It is completely unacceptable and we will hold the company accountable for its actions”, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, said.
US Oil Spill Blamed On Plains
The Houston-based company’s pipeline ruptured and released approximately 2,934 barrels of crude oil on land and into the Pacific Ocean.
According to PHMSA’s investigation, the system used to detect leaks did not warn the staff about the release and the operator did not perform the necessary emergency shutdown and leak detection alarm training.
“PHMSA’s investigation reveals that a number of preventable errors led to this incident and that the company’s failures in judgement, including inadequate assessment of the safety of this line and faulty planning made matters worse”, Foxx explained further.
Plains “Failed On Multiple Levels”
“This report confirms our preliminary findings on the cause of this incident and reveals that the operator failed on multiple levels to prevent, detect and respond to this incident”, PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez, said.
“While we will continue to work with other Federal and State agencies on civil and criminal actions, the bottom line is this pipeline will not be allowed to operate until we are satisfied that all of its safety issues have been appropriately addressed”, she added.
The agency will now focus on “enforcement options” against the firm.