Mariner East worker charged with falsifying documents related to a pipeline weld

Company says it re-inspected welds to make sure they met requirements

  • Susan Phillips

Federal authorities have charged a Mariner East pipeline worker with fraud related to work designed to ensure the safety of pipeline construction.

The U.S. Attorney’s office filed charges March 10 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh, alleging that Joshua D. Springer, of Scottdale, Pa., falsified documents while working as an x-ray technician on a section of pipeline construction that stretched from Washington County’s Houston, Pa. to Delmont, Pa. in Westmoreland County.

Springer worked on the pipeline in the second half of 2017. Springer’s job included taking x-rays of welds, examining the work and certifying whether  the welds complied with safety standards. The U.S. Attorney says in the charging documents that “the weld had not been properly x-rayed, interpreted and deemed acceptable.”

Pipeline welds are crucial to the safe operation of any pipeline system. The Mariner East pipelines carry natural gas liquids, which are heavier than air and can cause a catastrophic explosion if they leak.

The Revolution pipeline, another newly built Energy Transfer project, leaked and exploded in September 2018, causing a massive fireball and a family to flee for their lives. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a $30 million fine for the incident.

Energy Transfer spokeswoman Lisa Coleman said Springer worked for a third-party consultant and was fired, and that Energy Transfer itself had reported the incident.

“Immediately upon learning of the situation, we reported it to the appropriate regulatory agencies and re-inspected all welds in that section and confirmed that they were in compliance with our welding specifications and Title 195 Code requirements,” Coleman said in an email.

Coleman said the company x-rays 100 percent of welds, while regulations require just 10 percent. She said their auditing system detected the falsification.

Springer is the only person facing charges.

Neither Springer nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

The case was investigated by both the FBI and the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General.

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