A Corrective Action Order (CAO) went out to Plains Pipeline, LP, the operator responsible for the pipeline failure on May 19 that resulted in the release of crude into the Pacific Ocean, federal officials said.
The CAO requires the company to suspend operations and to make safety improvements on Line 901, the crude oil pipeline that failed and released crude oil along California’s coastline and into the Pacific Ocean, said officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
The CAO also requires the operator to remove any remaining crude oil from Line 901 and to submit a plan to PHMSA for approval before resuming operation of the pipeline.
On May 19, 2015, the pipeline failed, releasing crude oil along the north side of California’s Pacific Coast Highway. The new estimate of the worst-case volume of oil released is 101,000 gallons. The crude oil entered a drainage culvert and eventually migrated into the Pacific Ocean. The cause of the release has not yet been determined.
“PHMSA immediately deployed a team of inspectors to investigate the cause of this pipeline release, and took steps to prevent additional damage to the environment and the communities directly impacted by the pipeline failure,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The Department will remain on the ground to make sure this operator is held accountable for this failure and takes action to prevent a future release.”
Following the Line 901 crude oil release, PHMSA deployed four inspectors to the scene of the pipeline failure in Santa Barbara.
A fifth inspector went to the operator’s control room in Midland, TX, to review operational information and data. The inspectors are conducting investigations and assisting in oil spill response activities. PHMSA will continue to monitor actions mandated in the CAO, to ensure all factors involved in the release end up identified and remedied before the agency will allow Plains Pipeline to restart the pipeline.
“PHMSA is requiring Plains Pipeline, LP to take a number of actions to assess the current condition of the pipeline, identify the factors that led to the crude oil release, and to address any potential future risks to people or the environment,” said PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tim Butters.
PHMSA is also requiring Plains Pipeline to review and evaluate the effectiveness of its emergency response plan, including identifying areas for improvement, lessons learned, and communicating and coordinating response and support activities.
The Plains Pipeline, LP Line 901 is a 24-inch, 10.6 mile pipeline that transports crude oil between Las Flores Canyon and Gaviota, CA.